Iran will begin offering saffron on a stock exchange next week as part of a drive to create a new alternative investment class with international dimensions, Islamic Republic News Agency reported on February 26.
The idea of selling the highly valuable commodity which the country produces by the kilo has been floated for several months. However, several government body approvals were needed before the rare flower stem used as a spice could be upgraded to become a tradable commodity. Around 85% of the world’s saffron is produced in Iran and industry figures believe that with this level of production, it is the absolute right of Iranian players to devise the basis for global stock exchange trading in saffron and to set the global base price for the product.
The current price for each kilogram of Iranian-produced saffron stands at a minimum of €658 for low-quality saffron and tops out at €1,094 for the highest quality.
Ali Osat Hashemik, CEO of the Central Organization for Rural Cooperatives of Iran, reportedly confirmed that saffron “will be offered on the stock exchange”, but did not specify whether it would be found on the Tehran Stock Exchange or the Iran Mercantile Exchange.
Hashemi added: “The introduction [of saffron] is aimed at preserving the interests of producers and increases the country’s export capacity.”
Hashemik specified that 400 kilograms of various types of saffron would be introduced to traders by March 4. He said that prices for various types of saffron would be announced at the time of the introduction next week.
When comparing its low weight to its high value, saffron is one of Iran’s most valuable export items after oil, petrochemicals, gas, automotive consignments and nuts, most particularly pistachio nuts.
Last August, it was reported that Iran’s exports of saffron skyrocketed in the first third of the Persian calendar year (ended July 22) with 58.2 tonnes, worth $78.58mn, reaching markets. New markets reportedly included the US.
Saffron is a spice derived from the “saffron crocus” or Crocus sativus. Its vivid crimson threads are collected and dried, mainly for use as seasoning and colouring agents in food. Traded for over four millennia, it is also used in traditional medicine and as a fabric dye, most famously in making saffron-coloured robes for Buddhist monks.