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Saffron: drastic decline in shipments to EU

April 20, 2020 11:50 AM, Der AUDITOR
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TEHRAN. Although saffron production exceeded 450 metric tonnes in Iran last year, the US sanctions and the economic crisis prompted by the coronavirus have hit exports hard. Shipments to the EU have declined for the third year in a row.

Illegal trading remains a problem

In addition, the industry is slow to render the farming, selling and exporting of saffron more efficient. State support purchases and the government’s stance that problems should be solved by the private sector are also not deemed helpful. The National Saffron Council frequently criticises that only limited volumes are available in the stock exchanges. More than 70% of the growers are smallholders, who hold a maximum of 1 hectare. Problem is that Iranian saffron is mainly smuggled to other countries and illegally sold under the names of these countries.

By contrast, saffron quality improvement projects have helped to boost annual exports from around 100 metric tonnes to 300 metric tonnes in recent years. Iran’s main export destinations include the United Arab Emirates, China and Spain. As air shipment is suspended due to the cancellation of many international flights meaning that export supplies are limited, and Ramadan has driven up domestic demand the market has witnessed a sharp rise in price over the last two weeks. Negin saffron is even trading as much as EUR 67.00 per kg higher.

 

Saffron, premium quality, Iran

Type

EUR/kg

Bunch, Dasteh

444

Poushal

522

All Red Sargol

555

Negin

698

FOB Iran


EU imports less saffron

Shipments to the EU28 have declined for a third year in a row. While as much as 802 metric tonnes of saffron worth EUR 66.4 million were shipped to the EU in 2016, shipments ranged as low as 419 metric tonnes worth 40.8 million in 2019, down 17% in terms of volume and 5.3% in terms of value on 2018. Although shipments from China have declined by nearly 30% to 310 metric tonnes China remains the main supplier by far for the EU.

Last year, the UK remained the largest import market for saffron in the EU. As much as 350 metric tonnes were shipped to the UK, mainly from China (304 metric tonnes). This will, however, change with Brexit as the UK is currently in a transition period after which it will leave the EU single market. Shipments from Iran to the EU have nominally recovered by 3.4% to 61 metric tonnes, of which 45 metric tonnes were destined for Spain. Spain exclusively imports saffron from Iran. Shipments to Spain have, however, declined continuously over the last three years. Imports ranged at 52 metric tonnes in 2017.

EU saffron imports in mt

Country

2018

2019

Diff.

China

441

310

-29.7%

Iran

59

61

3.4%

Brazil

-

38

-

India

1

3

200%

Switzerland

2

3

50%

Afghanistan

-

2

-

Costa Rica

-

1

-

Morocco

2

1

-50%

Lao

1

-

-

Total

506

419

-17.2%

091020 Saffron, Eurostat

 

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price chart, saffron, dried, Negin, Iran
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