I’ve been asked this question a lot, and it’s tough to get a definitive answer. At a recent conference, one participant asked me what the price of a pound of saffron was. He asked to keep his name confidential, but I told him the following:
It’s less than $30 per pound at a wholesale supplier.
The price has gone up somewhat over the past two to three years, and I’d put a ballpark of about $70 per pound. At a local food co-op, it could go as low as $90 per pound per pound of dried saffron that is available to a consumer. I think that is a pretty reasonable price.
Saffron can cost a lot of money because the seed is so rare. It takes centuries to make the plant grow. As a result, the seed is a scarce commodity. Since most saffron growers don’t have this privilege, the saffron industry has been looking to seed suppliers for supplies. When I was at a conference recently, I asked one of these suppliers what his suppliers were paying. At first he replied that he had never heard of it. In response to a follow-up question, he replied “about $40 a pound.” The supplier added that “at the current price, it’s well below the wholesale rate.” He then went on to tell about how rare the seeds are in the U.S. (a fact that I found rather funny, considering that this supplier was buying the saffron through his own business, not the saffron seed company that I am working for).
In a conversation with one of the companies that sells the seed, he told me that a pound of saffron is currently around $40 or $50. The only way I could come up with any estimates for the price of the seed is to assume that wholesale prices are somewhere in the $40-50 range, and that an individual seed would cost around $60. The seeds come in two varieties, “Viridis” and “Anis.” My source at one supplier told me that the seeds for both types of saffron are “almost identical and almost identical.” Although my source could not say how many grams of seed would be necessary to make a pound of saffron, he did tell me that saffron has a “sweet tooth” (a lot of people use this word when describing saffron.) He added that the price of these two types of saffron
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