What Makes Saffron So Jaw-Droppingly Expensive?
Saffron threads come from crocuses, and are so tiny that no machine can harvest them. It can take one worker 40 hours of manual labor to harvest just one kilogram.
And of that one kilo, roughly half of it will be discarded because it doesn't meet quality standards.
Despite the astronomical price, Business Insider reports demand for the spice is so high that many adulterate or produce fake saffron.
Threads that look real at first glance could actually be made of corn silks, coconut fibers, or even horsehair.
Synthetic colorings are also used to dye the lower-grade stigmas and sell them as high-grade saffron.
In 2010, Spain exported 190,000 kilos of saffron, worth $50 million. But Spain's total production amounted to only 1,500 kilos.
At the time, a local farmers union reported that up to 90% of Spanish saffron exports were fraudulent.