Earning with saffron: costs and revenues

Earning with saffron: costs and revenues


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There are those who think that saffron is a quick way to get rich, attracted by the very high price of a kilo of this spice.

In reality, cultivating saffron is an agricultural job like any other and like all professions related to the land it is one strenuous job and that in terms of earnings it has a relatively low yield, especially if we compare it to the amount of work generated.

sure if the zafferaneto is managed in the right way it can pay off investments and efforts and allows you to make agriculture a profession, but if you are looking for easy money, you should abandon the idea of ​​growing saffron and look elsewhere. Those who are fond of agriculture can choose to grow crocus sativus as a profession, maybe he won't have crazy earnings but certainly there will be satisfactions.

Among the various crops, saffron is perhaps the one that involves a greater commitment in terms of hours / work compared to the extension of the field. For this reason, I recommend thinking about it before starting a large saffron grove.

Below I try to focus what makes cultivating this spice, analyzing what are the costs and revenue expectations. Obviously it will not be possible to make a business plan or provide exact figures: the variables involved are many and each situation can have its own peculiarities. The information you find is not pure theory, but the result of my experience with Vallescuria, a small Brianza farm that grows saffron.

Sources of income

To answer those who are asked how much you earn by growing saffron we can start by listing the possible revenues of a saffron grove, or its revenues. Growing saffron you can earn money in two ways:

  • Selling the spice.
  • Selling the bulbs.

To maximize profit, you need to be able to develop both areas.

The creation of derivative products such as liqueurs, flavored beer, saffron honey, jams, bakery and pastry products or cosmetics. This can give the farm a greater range of proposals to put on the market.

Earn money by selling saffron

The price of saffron is very high, this is well known. These are very variable figures that can go from 8 euros per gram up to 30 euros.

Generally a good Italian saffron in stigmas, therefore a high quality product, can cost double or even triple compared to the sachets that you buy in supermarkets, this means that if you are able to make good saffron and place it you can think of get 20 or 25 euros per gram. Obviously you need to know how to enhance your product in an appropriate way.

Wholesalers or retail

The price indication I have given is the cost at which the saffron is sold to the final customer. So if you want to earn this amount you have to sell directly to the private individual.

If you turn to shops, wholesalers or other intermediaries, the price decreases to halve and you risk earning a lot less. On the other hand, it will be easier to sell the spice. If the stigmas are sold to restaurants, the cost will be slightly higher than that of the wholesaler, except to be able to enhance the quality of restaurants of the highest level.

Possible customers of pure saffron in stigmas

  • End user (direct purchase from the company, flea markets, web sales).
  • Physical retailers (small local shops, quality food).
  • Online retailers (ecommerce of gastronomic excellence or natural products).
  • Solidarity buying groups (GAS).
  • Restaurants, pastry shops, bakeries and other food businesses that transform spice.
  • Cosmetic companies, for creams, perfumes, soaps.

Earn money by selling bulbs

The sale of bulbs is another sector that allows an economic profit, the customers in this case are other people who want to undertake cultivation.

The corms of saffron multiply from year to year, so once the plant is started, there will be surpluses of crocus stativus bulbs that can be sold. The price of the bulbs depends on their size and the quantities purchased.

  • Selling bulbs to farmers. Farmers who want to buy bulbs for professional cultivation generally take large quantities, therefore prices will also be lower. The bulbs can be sold by number (by the thousands) or by weight (by the quintal). A variable price can be from 15 to 25 euros per kilo.
  • Selling bulbs to individuals. Saffron bulbs can also be sold in small quantities to private customers who want to try putting saffron in the garden or even try to grow some flowers on the balcony out of curiosity. Even in the bulbs, the sale to private individuals brings higher revenues, but requires more advertising and contacts. It is generally sold by number in this case, with prices ranging between € 0.30 and € 0.50.

Permits. To sell bulbs to individuals or other growers you need to have certification of nurserymen, proving to know how to take the right precautions to avoid the proliferation of fungal diseases.

The yield of the zafferaneto

Saffron costs a lot per gram because it yields very little in quantitative terms.

A few tens of grams of spice are obtained from thousands of bulbs, which take several hundred square meters cultivated. Of each plant, only the stigmas are used as a spice: three very fine red threads inserted in each flower. If you are making calculations to establish how much saffron yields or to draw up a business plan, you must take this into account.

A few numbers. I try to give some numbers to allow inexperienced readers to get an idea. Obviously these are all indicative figures: the number of flowers that a crocus sativus bulb produces is variable and depends on many factors, first of all the fertilization, the climate and the size of the bulb.

  • We can expect an average of 2 to 5 flowers per bulb.
  • One gram of dried saffron requires 120-150 flowers.
  • According to these figures, imagine having 10,000 bulbs, they could give let's say 30,000 flowers, from which 200 grams of saffron in stigmas are obtained, for a value of less than 4,000 euros.

These figures should start to show that the gain of a crop is certainly not stratospheric, precisely because the yield in terms of quantity is very low.

However, overall it is possible to start a productive saffron grove and earn a decent salary with this wonderful activity.

The costs of a saffron grove

To understand how much saffron cultivation actually yields, it is certainly not enough to know how much you earn: it is fundamental also be aware of the expenses incurred. Once the costs have been removed from the turnover, the value of the activity is obtained, ie what remains in the pocket of those who have undertaken it.

The goal of each economic activity is repay the initial investment and obviously to have incomes higher than the ordinary management expenses, in order to record a profit.

Investment costs

The costs to be incurred to start a zafferaneto are not unreachable, they are substantially comparable to those of any agricultural activity (bureaucratic expenses, land, tools, fertilizers, ...).

Being a little mechanizable crop, fortunately it has a low initial investment related to machinery, you can start with a simple walking tractor, which if purchased used can cost less than 1000 euros.

At the classic expenses of every farm yes however, it adds up the purchase of the bulbs, an indispensable cost to start cultivation.

The topic of expenses and initial investment is very important in a cost and revenue calculation and essential if you want to write a business plan.

To better understand the various items of expenditure involved in this cultivation, you can read the article dedicated to the costs involved in a saffron grove, this can help you realize what the required investment is.

The cost of labor

In calculating the costs it is important do not neglect manual work as well, your work if (as I wish you!) you are personally involved in the field.

This is undoubtedly the biggest cost: growing saffron requires a lot of time spent plucking herbs, planting bulbs, plucking flowers, cleaning stigmas and then plucking herbs and plucking more herbs.

Financing, bureaucracy, tax breaks

To open a zafferaneto, as for any activity, there are to be faced a series of bureaucratic formalities, which obviously also involve expenses. From the opening of the VAT number to the registration with the chamber of commerce, to the permits and declarations necessary for the packaging and sale phases.

It is not the subject of this article to deepen the bureaucracy, which is not part of my skills. Furthermore, the legislation varies over time and in part also differs on a regional basis. However, bureaucratic expenditure must certainly be mentioned among the costs.

Fortunately, agriculture is a sector that has several tax simplifications. For example, to start with, you can take advantage of a VAT exemption as long as your turnover is low.

We are then periodically open tenders and funding who can make non-repayable contributions or soft loans to start the business. Incentives for agriculture are often provided by the regional government and the European community through CAP funds. It is also advisable to consult the chamber of commerce of your province to check also tenders more linked to the territory.

I hope I have not discouraged you, if I have not done so I can only wish you good work!


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