A growing number of people say saffron is making a comeback.
“Now I’m actually using it for skin care and makeup. In Brazil, it’s a great cosmetic,” said the 26-year-old entrepreneur, who did not want to be identified since she has not yet applied for a visa and remains in hiding.
Brazil has only 4,967 saffron growers as of June 2012. Even if new growers were to come in, new problems may arise.
According to a recent study from the European Union and the International Energy Agency (IEA), the growing demand for saffrons could be increasing by 2-10% a year in Brazil by 2020, or potentially even double it, if current farming intensities and the high cost of land don’t slow down.
A recent survey of 1,000 Brazilian saffron growers by a think tank in Brazil said the country could produce more saffron in the next two to three years than it has ever produced before — even without any new land-use restrictions.
Meanwhile, the demand for the drug, a substance found in spices like curry and mint, has grown so fast that the production of saffron, including raw material imports from India, Morocco and Morocco is expected to double by early 2013 to over a billion rupiah ($5.7 million), according to the International Saffron and Spice Trade Federation.
According to the IEA, only 5% of the world’s saffron is still grown for scientific purposes, and the rest is used in the cosmetic industry with varying degrees of success.
There’s even a saffron trade show, called Jugado, that took place in Sao Paulo last November. Many of the exhibitors brought back samples of their products to make sure they were healthy, and even sent their own employees and representatives to speak to judges during the show.
It’s a growing trend, said Ralf-Peter Guevara, a researcher at the University of Freiburg, and one he’s witnessed first hand.
“It’s just that this year many manufacturers, especially in Brazil, are looking for products that are better,” says Guevara.
One person he spoke to at the convention told German magazine Der Spiegel that he recently bought a product from a company in the US and decided to put it through a lab to see if it could grow as quickly and as successfully as the saffron used in the
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