Spain: It’s getting harder and harder to find people for the saffron harvest
Spain is the world’s largest importer of saffron, according to data from the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC) for 2019, and the second largest exporter of this product after Iran. According to an April 2021 report by the Spanish Foreign Trade Agency (ICEX), Spanish saffron exports amounted to €42.4 million in 2020 and imports to €26.2 million. But despite this commercial dynamism, Spanish cultivation, which mainly takes place in the Castilla-La Mancha region, shows a very different evolution.
Producing saffron requires lots of labor, the main reason the spice is far and away the world’s priciest food by weight.
Saffron is a product with a high economic value that generates remarkable marketing figures in Spain. For many decades, the country has been a relevant producer of this spice, considered the most expensive in the world although its current role in the saffron industry is much broader.
“The season is coming to an end again, because I think there are few places left to harvest. The season has been shorter than the previous one and although we still have to wait for the Supervisory Board to certify the harvest volumes and release official figures, several growers are already talking about 20 to 30% less product this year,” says Francisco Martínez of the company Azafranes Manchegos. “Cultivation in Castilla-La Mancha has been in a downward spiral for years.