Iran launching global saffron exporting bloc to increase trade share

Press TV – Iranian saffron exporters are mulling an international bloc of countries involved in the trade of the red gold as they become increasingly irritated with the European monopoly over benchmarking and standardization processes that exist in the field.

A senior saffron planter and exporter said on Saturday that the Organization of Saffron Exporting Countries (OSEC) would greatly boost the global trade of saffron and would help countries like Iran have a better share of the multi-billion dollar business.

“European countries do not recognize Iranian saffron standards,” Seyyed Ehsan Mostafavi told the IRNA agency, adding, “However, the real grade of the Iranian saffron will soon be established in the international markets through setting up the global bloc of OSEC.”

Iran is the world’s top producer of saffron, with output continuing to grow in the recent past, especially since national currency rial plunged against hard currencies last year when the United States imposed its sanctions on the country.

However, American sanctions and other issues have encouraged re-export of the Iranian saffron through the neighboring Afghanistan while causing direct exports from Iran to face various problems, including quality issues.

Mostafavi said the European buyers, including laboratories in Belgium, had “erroneously” identified the saffron produced in Afghanistan as the benchmark for importers.

He said the creation of OSEC would correct the current mistakes in standardization processes and would help other countries involved in saffron trade to have a better share of the global trade of the red gold.

The businessman claimed that the OSEC could help Iran increase its share of the $8-bn global saffron trade 10-fold to reach nearly $4.5 billion a year.

Mostafavi said a main substructure to help OSEC succeed would be to set up an agglomerate of industries and services related to the field in the city of Torbat Heydariyeh, located in eastern Iran, which is known as the capital of the world’s saffron plantation.

He said Iran’s ministry of agriculture has declared its support for the OSEC idea, adding that the foreign ministry, lawmakers in the parliament and major Iranian businesses involved in saffron trade are being briefed on the issue.