Leading Saffron Importer in the Philippines

We have our favorites when it comes to spices, sometimes, our preferences depend on our food traditions and culture. For example, Italian cooking counts on basil, oregano, and garlic. Our favorite Italian dishes, including pasta, aren’t complete without liberally using these spices. We enjoy a satisfying blend of the East and West for our Filipino cuisine. Our pantries often display a wide variety of ginger, garlic, bay leaf, tanglad or lemon grass, pepper, and chili. And we’re lucky that some of these herbs and spices are readily available in our local markets, and some we can grow in our backyard! But for other exotic and valuable spices that are not homegrown, we turn to importers to serve our needs. Saffron, for example, is primarily grown in Iran and India, so we’ll need the help of a leading saffron importer in the Philippines.

Did you know that saffron is one of the most widely traded spices and has become even more expensive and sought-after, primarily for its price, flavor, and the stories it brings? As a popular spice, Saffron has several uses in and out of the kitchen. Studies suggest that the intake of saffron has health benefits, and the cosmetics industry is starting to pick up the spice for its beauty products, particularly for its skincare lineup. But before you get into saffron trading and retail and work with a leading saffron importer in the Philippines, read our brief guide on the spice, and learn a bit of history!

What is Saffron?

Affectionately called the ‘sunshine spice’ for its vibrant colors, Saffron is a widely-traded spice and a common ingredient in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine. It’s harvested from the flower of Crocus sativus, or ‘saffron crocus,’ where its stigma and styles called threads are collected and dried for use as a coloring agent or seasoning in dishes. Although food historians have different takes on its origin, many believe it originates from Iran, one of the top exporters of saffron.

Other writers suggest that the plant may have originated in Mesopotamia and Greece and gradually cultivated and propagated in North America, Oceania, and North Africa. Iran remains the primary player in saffron cultivation and exporting, and according to National Geographic, it produces up to 85 percent of the world’s saffron supply.

Today, it’s one of the world’s most valuable spices, which can be used in many dishes, from curries, breads, pilafs, and even Spanish paella. Thanks to its versatility and depth of flavors, saffron is a popular spice imported by many countries, including the Philippines. Restaurants and households with a taste for good food often work with a leading importer of saffron in the Philippines to bring its unique taste, aroma, and even nutrition to local palates.

Health benefits of saffron

Saffron’s reputation may be closely linked to its price, but there are other things to love about this spice. Did you know that there are plenty of health benefits that you can get from using saffron in your recipes? Here’s a look at the major health benefits of saffron use in cooking, as explained by many health and wellness authorities.

  1. Saffron boasts powerful antioxidant properties.  This spice boasts a variety of plant compounds that act as anti-oxidants or molecules that protect your body from oxidative stress and free radicals. Some notable anti-oxidants in saffron are safranal, kaempferol, crocetin, and crocin. In fact, according to one study, all by-products of saffron, from the leaves, tepals, and stigma, serve as a natural antioxidant for biological activities.
  2. Anti-depressant properties and improves mood. Did you know that these spices boast anti-depressant and anti-anxiety properties? At least one study focused on the anxiolytic and antidepressant properties of saffron with minimal side effects. According to researchers, the relaxing effect of these spices is linked to crocin and safranal, their main active ingredients. Another study suggests that 30 milligrams (mg) of saffron daily can have the same effect as similar drugs that treat mild to moderate depression. While some articles say that using saffron can be an alternative therapy to improve mood, it’s too early to say it can also completely treat depression.
  3. It may help fight certain cancers. Since the spice is high in antioxidants, its consumption as part of the diet can help fight harmful free radicals, which according to some studies, are linked to cancer and other chronic diseases. Multiple studies in the laboratory show how saffron’s antioxidant properties can selectively kill colon cancer cells and suppress their growth while leaving the body’s healthy cells unharmed.
  4. Serves as an aphrodisiac. Saffron also acts as an aphrodisiac or food that can help boost one’s libido. Some studies suggest that these spices have aphrodisiac properties and largely benefit individuals taking antidepressants. A Healthline article suggests that by taking 30 mg of saffron daily over 4 weeks, men with antidepressant-related erectile dysfunction can help address their health problems. For women, 30 mg of saffron daily over 4 weeks can alleviate sex-related pain and heighten sexual urges and desires.

Saffron is a Valuable Spice in Regional Cooking

Bowl of Pasta With Shrimp

Saffron may not be as popular as chili, garlic, and pepper in the Philippines, but it’s essential to economic and culinary life in other countries, especially Iran.

According to Food Network, this spice perfectly accompanies several recipes and cooking, particularly Indian, Iranian, and Moroccan cuisine. Its bright yellow and crimson color adds a fash of color and life to any prepared food, and its earthy sweet flavor is perfect for making tahdig, paella, risotto, curries, and even bouillabaisse. And in the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries where rice is staple, saffron serves as the perfect complement. You can make saffron rice or prepare saffron and rice pudding, a popular Iranian dessert.

How About Saffron for your Skincare Routine?

And if you don’t feel like adding these spices to your dishes, how about integrating them into your beauty regimen? It may sound like a stretch, but saffron proves its worth, too, in the beauty department. They say Saffron is as old as time and traces a colorful history. According to some historians, Cleopatra herself was said to bathe and cleanse in saffron-infused milk before meeting his suitors. Also, saffron was used to dye the jackets of Minoan women, and as cosmetics, these spices were mixed with tallow, beeswax, and red ochre to make lipstick.

Today, you can find many saffron-based products that are perfect for your skin and hair and treating acne. According to experts, saffron helps brighten the skin and helps your skin recover from the stress of the environment and other pollutants.

Saffron- A Valuable Product for Trade

Unlike chili, pepper, and garlic, Saffron is most likely not present in huge amounts in many households. But it doesn’t mean that saffron is less important. On the contrary, saffron is arguably the world’s most valuable spice regarding pricing and benefits. Real saffron can fetch up to $10,000 per kilogram, and its price fluctuates depending on the production cycles. Saffron grown in the Kashmir region in India is one of the finest in the industry and can fetch up to $500 and $5,000 for a pound! Growing and harvesting the spice is labor-intensive, and the flower can’t grow in the wild. Also complicating matters are the sources of saffron, which can be quite distant, and requires costly transportation.

According to Statista, Iran is the leading producer of saffron, and in 2019 alone, this Middle Eastern country grew over 430 tons of saffron. India is another leading spice producer, but in the same year, the South Asian country only harvested 22 tons.

Despite saffron’s steep price,  it’s still valued for its culinary wonders, health benefits, and even its benefits to the person’s skin! So, it isn’t surprising to know that many countries are investing in these spices, and they’re working overtime to link with importers of saffron.

In the Philippines, there are only a few leading saffron importers in the Philippines, adding to the value of the spice. If you’re planning to trade the spice or want to enjoy its benefits, we recommend working with a leading saffron importer in the Philippines that understand the product and get it directly from the source. Saffron isn’t just pricey; it evokes luxury and carries a rich heritage that reflects the culture and practices of its growers, particularly in Iran and India. As such, you only want to order it from an importer with quick and safe access to the producers, who are trained in its proper handling and storage.