Annex White book.pdf

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Harvesting of flowers (UCLM)

ApbBMarking of two different areas (A) 199 and (B) 120 of theprimary pairs responding solemnly to saffron from the regionof La Mancha. (Z1:Saffron from La Mancha, Z2: Iran 1, Z3:Iran 2 and Z4: Greece)97

A1.3 TRADITIONAL SAFFRON CULTIVATIONA1.3.1 Cycles. Rotation of cultivationIn the cycle of Fig. 2 there are two different stages within one year:the activity period and the dormant period. The activity period lasts fromAugust to September or from April to May. During this period the plantactivates again its metabolism while root penetration, sprouting, floweringand leaf growth take place (Lopez, 1989). During dormant period,the bulbs do not change in volume or weight because they are alreadyfully formed. There is a transitory period between these two periods, inwhich mitosis and differentiation occur, however to a less importantrhythm (Mylyaeva y Azizbekova, 1978; Azizbekova et al., 1978).Fig. 2 Annual cycle of Crocus sativus L. (Lopez, 1989)In Castile-La Mancha, the production period of saffron lasts threeto four years. Normally, the preferred fields are those where no clover,potatoes or carrots have been cultivated for the last 3 years (or othercultivations that may carry diseases common to Crocus sativus L.).On the contrary, in Western Macedonia, the production period lasts5 to 7 years. As soon as bulbs emerge, they are separated, cleaned andreplanted in another field allowing thus the soil to rest and regain all nutrientsthat were lost during saffron cultivation.In Sardinia the period of production lasts 4 years. Between twocultivation cycles there is an interval of 5 to 10 years. Traditionally, thecultivation of saffron is followed by legumes cultivations such as broadbeans, chickpeas and lentils by the use of fertilizers.98

A1.3.2 Soil preparation before plantingA1.3.2.1Soil treatmentIn Castile-La Mancha the main task consists in ploughing at a depthof 35 to 40 cm using discs or hydraulic mould board ploughs. Nevertheless,the procedure varies according to the region, the climate and thenature of the soil. March or April is generally suggested for this task, inorder to benefit from spring rains, but sometimes ploughing takes placein May or June, right before bulb planting. (De Juan et Lozano, 1991;Perez 1995). After the second hoeing a broad plank is used to flattenthe soil for planting (Vidal, 1986).In Western Macedonia, soil treatment consists in deep ploughing atalmost 30 to 35 cm only one month before planting, followed by a notso deep ploughing in order to help the soil absorb the fertilizer and alsoby harrowing, in order to break up clods and lumps and to provide afiner finish. Weeds and stones, as well as any other elements that couldinhibit natural bulb development, are removed.In Sardinia, summer ploughing takes place at a 30 to 40 cm depth.Even nowadays, in San Gavino Monreale horse – drawn ploughs arebeing used, although small motor ploughs or tractors are being used aswell. Trenching and harrowing take place after panting, using the sameequipment as before.A1.3.2.2 Organic and mineralized fertilizersIn Castile-La Mancha, during the preparatory year of the cultivation(year zero), fertilizing is recommended three months before planting,using 20 to 30 mg manure per hectare. This task is performed througha second hoeing at an average depth by adding mineralized fertilizers.The appropriate mixing period lies between May and June. The mixedamounts recommended are 40 – 50 kg of nitrogen per hectare in formof ammonium sulfate (21 % N2), 80 – 100 kg of phosphor per hectarein form of super phosphate (18 % P2O2) and 100 – 120 kg of potashper hectare in form of potassium sulphate (60 % K2O5) (Munoz, 1987;Perez 1995; ITAP, 1998).In Western Macedonia, no specified fertilizing strategy exists, due toorganic soil differences (structure and texture), climatic variations andspecific features of the preceded cultivation, but experience of the cultivator.In general and apart from organic cultivation, manure is avoidedin order to prevent weed spreading in the field.A mixed chemical fertilization is recommended (N-P-K) in accordancewith following formulas:a) 100 kg (11N-15P-15K) + 20 kg (0N-0P-5K) = 120 kg per hectareb) 60 kg (0N-20P-0K) + 40 kg (21N-0P-0K) + 50 kg (0N-0P-50K)=150 kg per hectare99

The second formula (b) is more efficient when applied gradually,right before the planting of a new cultivation, since it allows the N-P-Kto dissolve better and consequently to be absorbed by the plant in amore balanced way.In Sardinia, manure is added to a large part of the field during fall ofthe year precedent to the commencement of cultivation. The amount variesbetween 30 – 40 mg of ripe manure per hectare (sheep – ox – horse).In addition to organic elements, some cultivators use mineralizedmaterials by adding small amounts of mineralized nitrogen fertilizers (forinstance urea or ammonium nitrate) during the end of winter in orderto activate plant activity. Seldom, three parts of fertilizers (8/24/24) areused in the fall, after flowering.1.3.3 Planting1.3.3.1 Bulb sizesIn Castile-La Mancha, studies have demonstrated the crucial importanceof bulb sizes for the number of flower buds during the first year ofcultivation. In the following years, size loses gradually its importance.In the third flowering year no difference is observed regarding the rateof the dry stigmas found on bulbs in various sizes.In Western Macedonia, there is no clear definition in terms of size,but generally, the use of small bulbs is avoided.In Sardinia, the biggest bulb diameter varies between 2,5 and3 cm. The smaller bulbs are planted in a row at the margin of thefield.A1.3.3.2 Planting depthDepth is crucial for the formation of the stigmas.In Castile-La Mancha, planting depth varies between 15 and 20cm. Bulbs are planted in such a way so as not emerge to the surface.Reproduction of the bulbs takes place during the following years ofcultivation.100

Βulbs without tegumentTests in natural environment (field) showed that the bulbs reach anannual production rate of approximately 3 kg per hectare at a depth of20 cm (clearly a higher rate than the rate of bulbs planted at a 10 cmdepth). This is crucial during the first two years (year 0 and 1). In thethird flowering year (year 2) production parity is observed while productionrate reverses in the following year.In Western Macedonia, planting takes place by the use of specialmachinery that enroots the bulbs at a depth of 25 cm into the ground.In Sardinia, the bulbs are planted at a depth of 15 – 20 cm.A1.3.3.3 Planting densityPlanting density is very important for the cultivation yield duringthe first year. As years pass by, planting density loses its importance.During the first year, the number of stigmas depends on the numberof flower buds, which in turn, depends on the planting density and thenumber of flower buds ( this number depends at the same time on thesize of the bulbs).The usual planting density in Castile – La Mancha is 60 bulbs persquare meter. In this way the quantity of stigmas obtained, is largerthan in usual cases (annual average: 3 kg per hectare). The efficiencyreached with higher density is more important during the first 2 years(up to the flowering time of the second year) but diminishes from thethird year and after.101

In Western Macedonia, the bulbs are planted in a distance of 10– 15 cm and in one line.In Sardinia the planting density varies between minimum 10 bulbsper square meter to even more than 50 bulbs per square meter.A1.3.3.4Disposition of bulbsIn Castile-La Mancha, the bulbs are planted in furrows at a distanceof 50 cm among them, improving thus weed control and aeration. Thedistance between each bulb is 3,3 cm.16010030Figure 3. Planting in different soil levels (the numbers arein centimeters)A variation of the above, is planting in different levels with differentwidths that depend normally on the features of the cultivation machinery.They are usually 1,20 meters long and the distance between them is 50cm (this leads to a total length of 1,70 meters). A unified surface is createdby this way, which enables the mechanization of harvesting.In Western Macedonia, the bulbs are planted in lines (furrows). Thedistance between each bulb is 10 – 20 cm.In Sardinia, the bulbs lie in a distance of 5 – 10 cm. The distancebetween the furrows varies from a minimum of 40 - 45 cm (distance usedtraditionally) to more than 100 cm depending on the applied machinery.Many planting techniques are being used depending on the nature of thesoil, the machinery at hand and the farmer’s demands. Most cultivationis planted in simple lines, on a slightly inclined soil that is maintainedevery year by banking up the fields. Manual flower harvesting becomesthus easier and water is not stagnating during the rain period. In somecases soil level remains flat during the entire cycle of cultivation.A1.3.3.5 Planting seasonIn Spain, saffron planting may take place in two different seasons:either on the second half of June or on the first part of September. No102

eason is known for preferring the one time or the other. The only factis that planting takes place when financial means are available.In Western Macedonia, planting starts usually in May and – dependingon the weather conditions –, and lasts until July.In Sardinia, the bulbs are planted between August 15th and September15 th .Irrigation system Surface watering Sprinkler irrigation Drip irrigationSuggested for:Cool climates thatneed only supportiveirrigationLoamy soils with bad drainageIntensive or extensive cultivationswith high plant density (more than200 bulbs per m2)Counter indication:Surfaces larger than 1hectare where mechanizedtreatment is neededBad water qualityLong term cycle of cultivation withlow plant density.PlaguesBulb eradicationMechanizedflower harvestingBulb growthAfter irrigation, plaguesestimation becomesmuch easierSuitable system butdifficult to controlNot very effective.This system can notcompete with the othertwo.Very effective for colony trackingand efficient use of applied drainage.The best suggested system for thistask due to best moisture levelsachieved in every plot.In case of high density plantingand during nose cutting, frequentwatering avoids crust formation andhelp thus machinery not to stuck inthe ground.Significant improvement of growthrate compared to surface irrigation.Inferior to other irrigation systemsThis system can not be applied forthis taskThis system can not be applied forthis taskThis system maintains stable humiditylevels expanding thus the growingperiod. Improvement of bulb size.Soil treatment It creates no problems. Best assistance for ploughing.This system allows no mechanizedweed control.Table 4. Strengths and weaknesses of the irrigationsystem103

not use any fertilizers at all. Generally, natural manure is avoided --exceptfor organic cultivation- in order to avoid migration of weed grain.A1.3.5.2 FertilizersSadeghi et al (1992) carried out many surveys comparing the effectsof various manure mixtures with nitrogen, phosphor and potashin saffron cultivation. They came to the conclusion that nitrogen has themost important effect on flowering rates and vegetation duration. On thecontrary, phosphor and potash supplements show no significant effects.Regarding the need for secondary elements like calcium and sulfur ortrace elements like iron, no reliable information on quantities, is available.In Castile-La Mancha, the most common fertilizers among cultivators,are mixtures of ammonium, potassium sulphate and ammoniumnitrate.A1.3.5.3 Fertilizer dosageIn the province of Albacete, the following annual dosage of mineralfertilizer is applied: 40-50 UF nitrate in form of potassium nitrate (21%),80-100 UF P2O2 in form of superphosphate potash (18% P2O2) and100-200 UF K2O in form of potassium shulphate (60% K2O).According to Sadeghi et al (1992), fertilizing with 100 kg urea perhectare increases flowering efficiency.In Western Macedonia, the recommended chemical fertilizing usedis a mixture of N-P-K according to the formulas of 100 kg per hectare(11N-15P-15K) + 20 kg per hectare (0N-0P-5K).A1.3.5.4 Fertilizing seasonManure and mineral fertilizers are applied in the soil at about threemonths before planting. During the second cultivation year as well asduring following years, fertilizing occurs 20 to 30 days before flowering,depending on rainfall during May (Perez, 1995).A1.3.5.5 Fertilizing techniquesThe incorporation of the organic fertilizer takes place directly afterit has been spread on the field. Covering should not be accompanied byturning, because such combination could lead to ammonium nitrate lossthrough evaporation. The fertilizer should be spread out equally over thecultivation and in layers of similar thickness, i.e. 12 and 15 cm.106

A1.3.6 EradicationWeeds cause a loss of 5 to 20 % of the cultivation (Perez, 1995). Wildplants function also as a focus for parasites and disease proliferation.A1.3.6.1Mechanized eradicationIn Castile – La Mancha, weeds are traditionally removed by hand(digging) and recently by mechanized digging between the furrows. Manureis incorporated during pre- planting, after the weeds have beenremoved. Digging of the surface during pre-planting and during themonths of April and May should be sufficient for eradication.When weeds appear, digging at 10-12 cm depth is recommended, onemonth after planting. Caution is suggested in order to avoid damaging thebulbs (Perez, 1995). Digging the surface in-between the furrows will takeplace in September in order to break the crust and remove the weeds. In addition,a supplementary digging could soften the soil and help aeration.In Western Macedonia, weeds are being removed with light diggingor by using a rotary cultivation machine before and after bulb planting.The digging depth after planting should not exceed 8-10 cm in order toavoid exposure and damage of the bulbs. After weed growth (springtime)and during dormant period of the bulbs (summer), weeds are cut off andburned on the field few days after cutting.In Sardinia, the tools for germination consist in digging by handalong the furrows while mechanized weed control is used for spudding,milling or banking up the field.A1.3.6.2 Chemical germinationIn Castile – La Mancha, the chemical products used mostly, are twocarbamates (contact herbicide) that remain for a short time in the soil:diquat and paraquat are applied between June and August and duringthe dormant period. The dosage varies between 2 and 4 Lit per hectare(ITAP, 1998). Diquat is used to fight weeds with narrow leaves whileparaquat is used after weed appearance.From 1999 until 2004, ITAP carried out various researches on theuse of different germinators such as glyphosate, linuron, metribuzin,pentimethaline and bentazon in saffron cultivation. These germinatorshave been applied separated or in combination during Decemberor February depending on their function. In the case of separate use,metribuzin 70 % (1 kg per hectare) has proved to be the best solution107

against weeds without negative effects on flower efficiency. Glyphosate20 % (8,5 Lit per hectare) proved to be the only germinator causing formationof irregular flowers directly after its use. The best results regardingflower quantity and weight, as well as stigma weight were achievedwith mixtures of metribuzin 70 % (1 kg per hectare) and pentimethaline33 % (3 lit per hectare) or mixtures of metribuzin 70 % (0,75 kg perhectare), pentimethaline 33 % (3 lit per hectare) and bentazon 48 % (3lit per hectare) (Fig. 3).Chemical germination products are used neither in Sardinia nor inWestern Macedonia.A1.3.7 Phytosanitary protectionGenerally in the regions mentioned herein, saffron is usually plantedin a light soil with efficient water drainage, without flooding problemsand without previous corps that could bear pathologies transmissibleto saffron.The greatest problems for the bulbs are the funguses FusariumOxysporum f. sp. Gladioli, Rhizoctonia croccum and Rhizoctonia violaceaTul as well as the acarina Rhizoglyphus. According to Benschop(1993) the main fungal diseases attacking saffron during storage arePenicillium verrucosum var. Corymbeferum, Uromyces croci Pass andFusarium sp.A1.3.7.1Disinfection of planting materialIn Castile – La Mancha, bulb disinfection, as a preventive measureor against various symptoms, is performed in various alternative ways:after applying the disinfection solution, it is important that the bulbs areimmersed in the fluid and then dry on air. In this way, possible pathogenicfactors find no suitable environment for growth.In Western Macedonia, bulb disinfection often takes place beforeplanting, using fungicides like Brassicol or potassium sulphate.Phytosanitary measures in Sardinia are limited in the treatment ofthe propagating material with substances based on copper. Anti infectivedefense is applied by selection of healthy propagating material andby destroying those plants that have been already infected during theplanting cycle.A1.3.7.2Enemy controlIn all three countries, saffron cultivation suffers from rodent attacks(rats) that are nourished with bulbs. Various methods existnowadays against rodents but the following are most commonly used:· Setting traps at rodent holes entrances108

· Putting smoke cartridges into the holes· Hole and tunnel destruction through machineryThe field surface can also be damaged by rabbits, hares and mice.A1.3.8 HarvestA1.3.8.1Preliminary ploughingIn Castile-La Mancha, a month before flowering, the field is preparedfor planting. In traditional planting a surface digging between the furrowsis usually applied in order to break the crust, to soften and aerate the soiland to remove the weed (Perez, 1995). In case of chemical eradication,crust breaking must take place by a hand rake in case of small-scalesurfaces or by tractors with forks in case of larger fields.In Western Macedonia, at the beginning of October, cultivators dig thefield in different places in order to control the bulbs and see if they havegrown thorns. When thorns become visible on the surface of the furrows,flowering begins within 6-7 days.In Sardinia, surface grubbing is takes place once or twice right afterthe beginning of the rain season at the end of the summer.A1.3.8.2 Flowering potentialPlanning of flower harvest is one of the most important tasks dueto the ephemeral life span of the flower and also due to the fact thatquality suffers if the flowers are exposed to bad weather.In Castile-La Mancha, generally, the flowering period lasts 10days, but the first five days give 70 % of the whole harvest. Fig.1shows flowering through dry stigmas efficiency during the whole floweringperiod for each year.In Sardinia, flowering begins during the first 10 days of Novemberand lasts approximately 20 days depending on the climatic conditions.During flowering, two or three production culminations appear,which bear the local name groffu.A1.3.8.3 Flowering estimationThe beginning of the flowering period can be predicted accordingto sunlight intervals and temperature, with very narrow error margin.The best temperature is about 18oC. But if we consider that floweringbegins at temperature culminations then the first flowers appear at atemperature of 23 and 25oC during the day and 10oC in the nighttime.The quote of the sunlight intervals can easily be used as an indicator.The resulting value should be close to 1,1. Periods with cold and wetclimatic conditions could result in early flowering.In Western Macedonia, at the beginning of October, cultivators dig109

up the soil in different locations in order to examine the bulbs and seeif they have grown sprouts. When sprouts appear on the surface of thefurrows, flowering begins within the following 6 – 7 days.In Sardinia, in order to plan harvest, especially during full floweringseason, cultivators predict flowering by observing the plant one daybefore, and are focused mostly on the peduncle during the pre-emersionphase.A1.3.8.4Flower harvesting methodsA1. Harvesting by handTraditionally, in Castile-La Mancha, flower harvesting is a task performedby hand. The flowers are cut at the foot of the crown and putinto narrow baskets (in order to avoid crushing) (Pic. 5). In addition tohard weather conditions the uncomfortable body position adapted bythe workers makes such task difficult.Harvest efficiency varies and depends on human factors, cultivationand weather conditions. Galigani and Garbati (1999) estimate a dailyyield of 8 to 16 kg of flowers per person. According to information gatheredfrom various Spanish cultivators, daily yield is estimated at 14 to18 kg of flowers per person in 5 or 6 working hours.In Western Macedonia, flower harvesting takes place every day between09:00 and 17:00 hours. The flowers are cut off cautiously at thefoot of the petals. This task is carried out by hand, and only when theflower is completely open.110

Harvesting of saffron flowers (ITAP)A1. Harvesting by hand with mechanical assistanceIn Spain, various types of assisting machinery have been tested inorder to improve the uncomfortable position of the workers during harvesting.The worker sits very close to or lies on the ground (pic. 6). Themachine moves by electric motors with battery power. This machineryhas also the advantage of carrying sockets for the flower boxes.A1. Mechanized harvestingThe Spanish company “Cia General Azafran” has constructed varioustypes of a more or less complicated machines for flower harvesting. A cuttingbar cuts the flowers near to the ground. A conveyor canvas transportsthe flowers to the container boxes.This method increases harvesting efficiency and reduces productioncosts. On the other hand, its handicap is that it creates a lot of dirt andsmears the stigmas of the open flowers with soil. They also cut the leavesthat have grown together with the flower affecting eventually the futuregrowth of bulbs (Tammaro, 1990). However, the existence of leaves (esparto)is also a handicap on the efficiency during harvesting by hand sinceit takes a lot of time to remove the leaves.111

Saffron field at peak of its vegetation activity (ERSAT)Fig. 6. Harvesting machines for saffron flowers112

A1.3.8.5 EfficiencyIn Castile-La Mancha maximum efficiency is reached during the first andsecond year (i.e. the second and third flowering year) and diminishes in thefollowing years. Efficiency decrease depends closely on the salinity of the cultivation.If the salinity is good, the production cycle can last even up to sevenyears.In Western Macedonia, the annual saffron production reaches an averageof 10 kg per hectare and depends to a large extent, on the climatic conditionsduring fall.In Sardinia, efficiency varies greatly during the four years of the productioncycle. In the first year, production reaches 650.000-700.000 flowers per hectare(5 kg of dry stigmas per hectare), in the second year about 1.300.000-1.400.000flowers per hectare (10 kg of dry stigmas per hectare), in the third year productionreaches 1.950.000-2.100.000 flowers per hectare (15 kg of dry stigmas perhectare) and in the fourth year production falls to 1.300.000-1.400.000 flowersper hectare (10 kg of dry stigmas per hectare).A1.3.9 Bulb harvestingA1.3.9.1 Bulb grubbingBulb grubbing is the most important task for the cultivation of saffron.The quality of the planting material is closely related to the possiblewounds that occur on the plant during grubbing. Thus it is important,that the applied systems would not damage the bulbs. It is also importantthat the bulb should not be exposed to the sun for more than 2hours. The bulbs should be stored in dark places with sufficient ventilationand on a layer of no more than 40 cm. Material should be treatedvery cautiously during each task.In Castile-La Mancha, grubbing takes place in June and July, whenthe temperature is high and the soil very dry. If the ground has not beentreated and sand is lacking, this could lead to the formation of earthlumps, decreasing thus efficiency and increasing the possibility of plantinjuries (especially when machinery is used). There are two solutions toprevent a situation like this:· Light field irrigation 48 hours before grubbing. Immediately after irrigationis completed, grubbing should take place since it would be fatal forthe bulbs to stay in this humid environment at this time of the year.· Treating the soil in a narrow depth of 10 cm. This would have nonegative effects provided the plants lie on the same level.End of August would be not a good season for grubbing becauseduring this time the plant grows roots. The stems are 1 and 2 cm longand difficulties in the next sprouting could occur.In Western Macedonia, in order to interrupt cultivation, bulb grub-113

ing takes place after 7 or 8 years. The bulbs that will be used for thenew cultivation, are collected during May – June. Bulb grubbing is performedby tractor ploughs or other grubbing machinery. Prior to theiruse, they are cleaned, selected and stored for 40 to 50 days in a cooland dark place.In Sardinia, a hilling up plough is used that is pulled by a tractoror horse. The grubbed bulbs are collected hand and placed in boxes fortransport to the premises of the cultivators in order to be cleaned. Bulbgrubbing is takes place at the end of the cultivation cycle during themonths of June and July. CleaningIn Spain, cleaning is performed in order to remove the damagedplants, achieving thus better planting densities and improved cultivationcycles.Prior to cleaning, all foreign objects such as soil, weed and otherplant residues must be removed from the plant. Further on, some partsof the plant must be also removed such as the outer housing and allbulbs from former cycles that remain attached on the bulb’s foot. Alltasks must be carried out without damaging the plant or leaving thewhite and pulpy pert of the bulb uncovered. Before and after cleaning,the bulbs should be stored unexposed to direct sun light and in layersof less than 40 cm. All infected relicts will be burned. Sometimes somebulbs are seriously infected and weigh less than the healthy ones. Immersingthese bulbs in water is suggested in order to remove the soilresidues. The bulbs should be dried by the use of air.In Sardinia, the outer housing of the bulbs is removed directly aftergrubbing (June – July). Trimming allows the further use of healthybulbs that carry no fungus symptoms and with a diameter larger than2,5 cm. After grubbing, cleaning and trimming, the bulbs are stored inplastic bags and wooden or plastic boxes, unexposed to sunlight, in dryenvironment until planting, which traditionally, takes place between thefirst half of August and the first half of September.In Western Macedonia, the outer housing of the bulbs is cleaned byhand before planting.114

A1.4 MECHANIZATION OF SAFFRON CULTIVATION IN THE FIELDIn Spain following techniques are mainly applied.A1.4.1 Bulb plantingA1.4.1.1Special equipmentAvailable technology for other bulbous plants can be applied in saffroncultivation as well. All planting machinery, suitable for plantingfreesia or irises can be used with no modifications in the saffron cultivation.Such machinery fulfills all traditional demands. The machines canbe adjusted in order to obtain appropriate planting depth.Seeding machinery can be adjusted to the specific demands of eachseeding type, either in rows with distances varying from 20 to 50 cm orin different levels of 1 meter in their superior part).Planting with nettings is a new technique that makes grubbing easier.The eyes of the small bulbs have a diameter of 5 mm and the eyesof the larger bulbs have a diameter of 12 mm. The nettings are placedinto the planting tubes of the machinery. Modification of various types of cultivation machineryIn case cultivation machines for potatoes, onions or garlic are alreadyavailable, then the same can be used for saffron cultivation aswell. Given the fact that these cultivations do not need delicate handling,the machinery must be modified in order to avoid damaging thebulbs.A1.4.2 Cleaning, sorting and disinfectionA1.4.2.1CleaningPrior to sorting, saffron bulbs are subjected to all usual proceduresapplied in other bulb cultivations, too. In order to remove soil residuesfrom their surface, the bulbs are forwarded on a vibrating roll belt.Afterwards, the bulbs travel over two moving belts equipped withrubber fingers that move simultaneously at different speed. Thus newbulbs can be separated from the old ones and the biggest part of theouter housing is being removed. Eftsoon, bulbs fall through the rolls intocontainers. Further on, the bulbs are being transported on a 3 meterbelt in order to be cleaned by hand.115

A1.4.2.2SortingThe machinery used for this task, carries sieves (with different eyediameter) and the bulbs are transported with the help of vibrating beltsor plates. All material that comes in contact with the bulbs should bewooden or covered with rubber or plastic. Bulbs with a diameter of 18mm will not produce flowers the current year. Bulbs with a diameterbetween 18 and 30 mm are able to deliver flowers the current year andwill be chosen for the cycles of the year 3 and 4. Bulbs with a diameterlarger than 30 mm will be used for intensive cultivation or for shortercultivation cycles.At this stage the bulbs are ready for disinfection.A1.4.2.3Bulb disinfectionFor the disinfection line, sprinkler systems spread water over the bulbswhile being transported on moving belts.A technique by hand can be then applied, consisting in emerging thebulbs in containers with disinfection solution for 5 minutes in order tosoak thoroughly.A1.4.3 Bulb harvestingA1.4.3.1Special equipmentVarious grubbing machines are used, depending on whether nettingplanting has been applied or not.If no netting has been used, the task is carried out in one piece.A machine, equipped with a vibrating knife sticking ca. 40 cm in theground, collects and protects the bulbs. An important flaw of this systemis that it drags along a great amount of soil. Further on, if the soilis not sandy, large clots could be formed, damaging thus the bulbs. Thetransport belt has a narrow ankle in order to hinder bulbs from fallingout. When the bulbs reach the end of the belt, they are transported tostorage containers on vibrating bars. The storage containers are coveredwith canvas to avoid bulb damages.When netting planting has been applied, two harvest phases are necessary.First, bulbs and nettings are placed on the ground. A knife entersthe ground into 30 cm depth and the netting passes through a frame thatremoves attached soil. After that, the eyes are being cut and destroyedthrough burners. The advantage of this system is that only bulbs canreach the storage containers. The machine moves very slow in order toavoid bulb destruction and the efficiency is about 1 hectare per day.116

A1.4.3.2Modifying other cultivation machinesModified machinery can be applied only in small-scale fields wherethe bulbs have been planted in lines. Preferably, those machines shouldnormally be used for grubbing potatoes and bringing the bulbs on thesurface of the field. At that point, bulbs are picked up by hand. Bulbscollected by such method, are clean, free from soil and weeds. A greatnumber of bulbs, especially the small ones, remain within the groundas they are covered by the soil falling on the ground.A1.4.4 Flower harvestingMechanized flower harvesting is possible only when the field hasbeen prepared accordingly after planting or during the end of the summerand if the cultivation is already some years old. In this case, themachinery needed is moulding machines that till at a depth of 3 to 10cm depending on the position of the sprouts. After tilling, the soil is flattenedand pressed by a rolling machine (a free moving roll would ratherover churn the soil instead of compress it). The soil should be free fromweeds and other residues.The machine for mechanized harvesting has been described in aprevious sectionA1.5 FORCED SAFFRON CULTIVATIONA1.5.1 Bulb production in the fieldBulb production systems through forced cultivations demand a greatamount of vegetable material deriving from the fields. In Albacete (Spain)tests on forced cultivations are being carried out in order to study theeffects of the size of the bulb and the planting density in relation to theefficiency and quality of the cultivation. The best results were achievedby planting the bulbs with a diameter larger than 30 mm in density of200 to 300 bulbs per m2. The outcome was 28,4 Mg per hectare and36,6 Mg per hectare respectively (De Juan et al, 2003).A1.5.1.1Reproduction material sanitationThe bulbs used in forced cultivation should not bear any damagesthat could allow infections by microorganisms. Infections could havenegative results, causing flower dismissal117

A1.5.1.2 Annual, biannual and triennial productionThe bulbs that will be used in forced cultivation should have alreadycarried flowers twice in the field. The vegetable material for bulbpropagation one year after planting is not suitable for forced cultivation.Its ability for flower production is very limited compared to thebiannual and triennial production, given the fact that the producedflowers correspond to the developed sprouts.A1.5.2 Cultivation in storage rooms under controlled microclimaticconditionsA1.5.2.1Bulb storageA1. Temperature conditionsWhen bulbs are stored at 0 o C, sprout production stops and no alterationis caused to the bulbs.Flowering takes place in bulbs with a diameter larger than 20 mmand at temperatures varying between 23 and 27 o C. Under such conditions,maximum flowering is achieved within 45 to 60 days of hatching(Valero et al, 2004).A1. Atmosphere modification and controlRelative humidity should vary between 70 and 80 % in order tohinder the development of microorganisms while causing very littleweight loss to the bulbs. The above temperatures vary according tostorage temperature, weight control and health condition of the bulbs.CO2 levels should not exceed 2500 ppm. Ethylene levels shouldbe controlled thoroughly because bigger concentrations may disturbbulb dormancy and cause flowering as well as physiological imbalances(Valero et al, 2004).A1. Storage durationBulbs may be stored in storage rooms that fulfill the above temperatureconditions (ventilation should be possible in containers or trays). At25 o C storage duration varies between 70 and 160 days. At 30 o C, storageshould not exceed 150 days – bulbs may begin sprouting and producehence a limited number of flowers (Valero et al, 2004). No duration limitis given if the storage temperature is kept at 0 o C.118

A1.5.2.2Flowering in storage roomsA1. Planting density in traysIn forced cultivation, it is important that the trays should be piled upin order to maintain as much bulbs as possible in limited space.Planting density depends on the size of the bulb. Given the fact thatthe recommended bulb diameter should be 30 mm or more, an averageof 472 bulbs is needed per m 2 (Valero et al, 2004). The bulbs remain inthe trays until the end of the flowering process and are planted directlythereupon, in the field in order to propagate.A1. UnderlayThe trays, where the bulbs are placed, are covered with an inertunderlay such as micanite that enables flattening. Its purpose is to holdhumidity and supply the growing layer for sprouts and roots.A1. Irrigation controlWhen climate conditions allow the transition from storage to flowering,then the time is appropriate for watering. Irrigation frequency andintensity depended largely on the underlay quality and the needs of thecultivation. Flowering initiation can be predicted with very narrow errormargin according to the first irrigation.A1. Temperature and light controlA temperature between 17 and 18 o C is suitable for flowering. Thetime needed for flower development at this temperature, varies accordingto storage duration. After long storage the flowers grow faster (Valeroet al, 2004).Bulbs do not need light except during flowering period, in order toavoid whitening (excessive and unbalanced leave and stamen developmentthat could use up all reserves and hinder flower growth).A1. Flowering periodFlowering may last around 100 days. The average flowering duration foreach bulb “compartment” is 13 days (Valero et al, 2004). Bulb production ineach tray is slow during the beginning and the end of the flowering period,while up to three maximum flowerings are possible during this time.119

A1.5.2.3. Mechanized forced cultivationMechanization of a part of the stages in a cultivation, such as planting,grubbing, disinfection and drying has already been described informer sections. However, there are other procedures that could bemechanized as well:A1. Tray fillingThis task could be well mechanized although manual labor wouldstill be necessary. A construction with a hopper over a transporting beltcould provide a solution.A1. Providing the underlayersA similar construction to the above could be used. The filled trayscould be transported on a belt underneath a dosing hopper. IrrigationA sprinkler system could be placed over the trays as part of thelighting system in the flowering zone.A1. Flower cuttingThe trays could be transported on a moving belt underneath a cuttingbar. This system would inevitably cause damages due to differentflower sizes.A1. Underlay and tray recyclingAfter procedure completion the trays as well as the underlay arecleaned for further use.A1.5.3A1.5.3.1Cultivation in macrotunnels and greenhouse tunnelsCovering materialForced cultivation could be carried out in macrotunnels or greenhousetunnels. Early flowering could be achieved by temperature,relative humidity and light control, through adapted arrangementsand covering materials.120


Separation of flowers (Corongiu)

SAFFRON TREATMENTIN SPAIN, GREECE AND ITALYFollowing pages contain a detaileddescription of the flower treatment process,beginning from harvesting the flowerin the field until the flower is transformedinto the saffron spice. The procedurediffers in each of the three regions:La Mancha (Spain), Western Macedonia(Greece) and Sardinia (Italy).A2.1 FLOWER TRANSPORTATIONAND CONSERVATIONIn order to conserve flowers underbest conditions for further treatment,flowers are transported from the fieldinto special container. In Western Macedonia,cultivators use special baskets,made from various materials. In Castile-LaMancha, the baskets are madefrom osier or rush, bearing variousheights and diameters. The flowers areplaced very carefully into the baskets.The baskets are not overloaded in orderto prevent damaging the flowers.In Sardinia, the baskets are made fromthe branches of olive trees togetherwith young reeds. In case of wind duringharvesting, baskets with narrowopenings are used in order to preventthe lighter flowers to be blown away.After harvesting, the flowers aretransported as fast as possible, inwooden or plastic containers (Sardinia)or in the initial harvest baskets (WesternMacedonia and Castile-La Mancha)to the room where treatment begins. IfSaffron flowers in atypical Sardinian basket(Corongiu)123

the weather is rainy during harvesting, the flowers are being spread outon canvases or on clean ground to dry. Under normal conditions withno rain, the flowers are spread out on tables for cutting (separation ofthe stigmas from the remaining blossom). All three regions agree on thefact that the duration of this cutting/separating procedure is crucial forthe quality of the final product. Hence, harvesting, drying and cuttingshould take place on the same day.A2.2 SEPARATIONIn order to conserve flowers under best conditions for further treatment,flowers are transported from the field into special container. InWestern Macedonia, cultivators use special baskets, made from variousmaterials. In Castile-La Mancha, the baskets are made from osieror rush, bearing various heights and diameters. The flowers are placedvery carefully into the baskets. The baskets are not overloaded in orderto prevent damaging the flowers. In Sardinia, the baskets are made fromthe branches of olive trees together with young reeds. In case of windduring harvesting, baskets with narrow openings are used in order toprevent the lighter flowers to be blown away.After harvesting, the flowers are transported as fast as possible, inwooden or plastic containers (Sardinia) or in the initial harvest baskets(Western Macedonia and Castile-La Mancha) to the room where treatmentbegins. If the weather is rainy during harvesting, the flowers arebeing spread out on canvases or on clean ground to dry. Under normalconditions with no rain, the flowers are spread out on tables for cutting(separation of the stigmas from the remaining blossom). All three regionsagree on the fact that the duration of this cutting/separating procedureis crucial for the quality of the final product. Hence, harvesting, dryingand cutting should take place on the same day.124

Separation in Castile-La Mancha (UCLM)A2.3 DRYING OF STIGMASDrying is the most important part of the whole procedure and avery precarious one, during which stigmas lose 20% of their initialweight and turn into the saffron spice. Generally, drying can take placeby two different ways: according to the first, as applied in India, Iranor Morocco, the stigmas are spread out on large surfaces and left todry at the temperature of the existing environment (under the sun orin shadow, in sufficiently ventilated rooms). The other way of dryingis to apply high temperatures on the stigmas either through hot airstreams or by toasting them or by placing them in rooms with controlledtemperature.The latest of these techniques is used in all three European regionseven if some procedures differ slightly according to local experience.The producers of all three regions agree on the point that the stigmasshould be dried on the same day after harvesting before separation.If separation can not take place on the harvesting day, the stigmasshould be spread on the ground, on plastics, in sufficiently ventilatedrooms and on a layer of 10 cm or less (in order to avoid flower stickingand damage of the stigmas).125

In Castile-La Mancha, the wet stigmas are spread out in a layerof less than 22 cm, on metal or silk sieves. The sieves are placed on aheating source. The most common heating sources for saffron dryingnowadays are fire, butane gas ovens or coal from vines. Other heatingsources, though seldom used, are wooden drying plants, electricbraziers, heater coils and air heaters. The drying temperature shouldalways be above 70 o C and is applied for almost half an hour. Followingfeatures define the drying condition of saffron: feel, color, aromaand appearance. Optimized humidity is approximately at 10%, so thatthe packaging process should not stress the product and make extrawetting necessary.Sieve used in Castile-La Mancha for the drying of stigmas(UCLM)In Western Macedonia, stigmas are laid out on silk sieves in acontrolled temperature environment of 25 to 30 o C for 12 to 24 hours.Achieved optimized humidity for the final product varies between 10and 20%. The saffron is dry as long as it can be easily detached fromthe surface of the sieve.In Sardinia¸ “feidatura” is prior to drying and consists in wetting thestigmas with extra virgin olive oil (a quarter of a tea spoon for 100 gr ofwet saffron). It is said that “feidatura” improves stigma appearance and126

perseverance. Afterwards, the stigmas are placed on wooden planks anddried under the sun or near the fireplace. During the last years smallelectric dryers with thermostat are frequently used at a temperature ofapproximately 45 o C.Fig. 3. Separation procedure, “feidatura”and drying in SardiniaThe main conclusion regarding drying process is that the appliedmeans (heating source, temperature and duration of procedure)is crucial for the organoleptic features of saffron (color, tasteand aroma). Furthermore, an important factor determining thevalue of this spice, is its size. Thus, it is recommended to choose thesuitable conditions for producing larger length and mass. Generally,fast drying techniques produce shorter saffron spices and ifwarm air steam is applied, the size is inversely proportional to thesupplied steam amount. On the other hand, drying in room temperatureproduces dark color saffron, which is used to make saffronpowder with a strong red color.127

A2.4 SAFFRON CLEANINGIn Western Macedonia, after drying and before packaging, all foreignparts that are eventually still present are removed by hand. In order toremove any existing metal objects, special magnet-equipped machineryis applied. In Castile-La Mancha, the producers remove stamens andother flower parts that could eventually be present, by hand. In Sardinia,after completion of the drying procedure, saffron is kept in sealed metalcontainers before packaging.128


Harvesting (Corongiu)

STORAGE AND PACKAGINGof SAFFRONin SPAIN, GREECE AND ITALYStorage and packaging are two verysignificant procedures for preserving theinitial quality of the saffron spice. Following,various methods applied by producers,producers-traders and packersin Castile-La Mancha (Spain), Sardinia(Italy) and Western Macedonia (Greece)are described in detail.The producer caries out all tasksfollowing saffron harvesting (separationof the stigmas, drying and storage).However, he does not sell products undera specific brand name: his role isto supply the product to the packers /traders, who will perform packaging. Inthe case of producer – trader all tasksare carried out by the same person. Thepacker – distributor, purchases, cleans,sorts out and sells the spice.All these professionals carry the responsibilityof preserving saffron in bestconditions until the product is sold.During storage of saffron, in orderto maintain best possible conditions,following factors should be taken intoconsideration:• Storage duration• Temperature• Relative environment humidity• IR radiation• Sample consistencyDried stigmas for weighing(ERSAT)131

A3.1 STORAGE BEFORE PACKAGINGIn Castile-La Mancha, the producers and producers-traders, store saffronfor about one year. Nowadays, effort is made to eliminate the myth of along-term conservation regarding saffron. The market trend is to purchaseand trade saffron during the same year of its production (an indispensablecondition for saffron with a designation of origin). The use of thermo-humiditymeters enables temperature and humidity control, but the mostcommon practice is to store the product in a cool and dark place.Packers- distributors in Castile-La Mancha store saffron in coolingcompartments. If no such facilities are available, saffron is stored in acool place, unexposed to light. The storage conditions are:· Temperature between 5 and 10 o C· Humidity: nowadays humidity varies between 30 – 50 %The time between storage and packaging varies and depends onthe packer. Some of them purchase the annual production and startpackaging within a short period of time, according the current marketdemands. It is very common that after purchasing the new harvest, theolder saffron is discharged due to loss of its organoleptic features.In the storage room, saffron is kept in plastic bags and in woodenor polystyrene containers.In Western Macedonia, the producers store saffron at low temperatureand in 2,5 kg containers or in 10-15 kg barrels or in plastic bags.The average storage time is one or two months. Relative humidity of saffronis about 10% while the environment humidity is at 40-60%. Storagetemperature is lower than 10 o C. The producers – traders store saffronin refrigerators in 2,5 kg containers or in 10-15 kg barrels or in plasticbags. The average storage time is up to five years. Relative humidityof each sample is about 10% while environment humidity is about 40– 60%. Storage temperature is at 4 o C.In Sardinia, (producers and producers – traders) after drying of saffron,the spice is kept in sealed tin foil or opaque glass containers inorder to avoid any exposure to light and air. Saffron is kept in such containersbefore distribution. Generally, the product is distributed within12 months after harvesting. The storage rooms have a controlled temperatureand humidity environment.In Sardinia and Western Macedonia the storage conditions appliedby the packer – distributor are the same.A3.2 PROCEDURES BEFORE PACKAGINGThe procedures that take place before packaging are manual weighingby small precision scales, cleaning, disinfection, humidity control,batch homogenization and grinding.132

A3.2.1 Cleaning: removal of foreign parts and flowerresiduesThe term flower residues refers to: petals, free stamens (separatedfrom the stigma), flower foot, pollen and ovary parts of Crocus SativusL. (ISO TS-3632-1: 2003). Foreign parts are: leaves, stems, dry weedsand various other plant residues different from those described above,belonging to the flower Crocus Sativus L. (ISO TS-3632-1: 2003).In Sardinia (producers – traders), cleaning of foreign parts takesplace during separation of the stigmas.In Western Macedonia (producers – traders) a special bench is usedfor visual control of foreign parts (small stones, hair, leaves, soil, insects,plastic parts etc). Saffron is then placed on a special shaking sieve forfive seconds maximum in order to remove the pollen.In Castile-La Mancha (packer – distributor), cleaning of foreign partstakes place by hand, with great care so as not to break any stigma– this task increases labor costs. Some packers perform tests on variousconcepts to mechanize this procedure but the achieved results arenot very satisfactory.A3.2.2 Disinfection processIn Castile-La Mancha many packers apply various permissible disinfectantson the product, in order to prevent insect growth, given the factthat the use of methyl bromide and ethylene oxide is forbidden nowadays.In Sardinia and Western Macedonia producers – traders do not performany disinfection procedure.A3.2.3 Humidity controlThe humidity added to the product must be controlled in order tomaintain legal standards and prevent mould and fungus developmentthat weakens the coloring agents. The humidity levels are higher for saffronthreads than for saffron powder.In Sardinia, producers – traders do not perform controls on humidity.Analysis carried out on samples show that humidity levels do not exceed10 %.In Western Macedonia (producers – traders) saffron is delivered to the“Saffron Cooperative” with humidity levels at 11,5 %. If humidity exceedsthis level, the product must be dried in a special furnace, owned by thecooperative.In Castile-La Mancha (packer – distributor) it is very common to lightlywet the stigmas during production of the saffron threads. This makessaffron softer and thus more resistant to breakage.133

A3.2.4 Saffron sorting, mixing and lot homogenizationIn Sardinia no additional sorting procedure takes place, since thisproduction stage was carried out during separation of the stigmas.In Western Macedonia, saffron is placed on a large table on whichthe various productions are sorted by hand at quantities of 20 – 50 kgin order to achieve lot homogenization.In Castile-La Mancha, the producers select the material accordingto the specific quality requirements of the given order (material profile,cleaning, absence of insects, good color, good coloring agents, long stigmasand small percentage of broken threads).It is common to select the already analyzed lots for mixing, in orderto meet the client demands such as length of stigmas, saffron quality,attached or separated stigmas etc. This mixing task takes place by hand.Of great importance is also the sieving procedure, which helps obtainingsaffron with treads of a specific length.A3.2.5 Grinding: Saffron powder and grindingIn Sardinia (producers – traders), saffron is distributed in powder.Grinding takes place after toasting by traditional methods (for instanceusing smoothing iron over folder food paper, containing saffron stigmas)or with coffee mills or in case of larger crops by measurer- packagingmachines.In Western Macedonia (producer – traders), special machinery isused for saffron grinding.In Castile-La Mancha, the grinding procedure is fully or semi-mechanized,depending on the feeding system of the grinding machine. Duringthis procedure the granulometric composition of the saffron can beselected by sieving (by hand or mechanized). It is much easier to grinddried saffron.A3.3 PACKAGINGI Saffron packaging has three concrete and well defined objectives:1.The product should reach the consumer in full preservation ofall of its natural, nutritious, taste and aroma features.2.The product should be protected from possible alterationscaused by chemical or biological factors.3.The product should be protected, as strongly as possible, frombacterial infection, which would hinder reduction of its microbic loadand can be achieved through sterilization.Following rules must be obeyed in order to secure the above objectives:134

– The packing material should be chemically compatible withsaffron.– The packing should be impermeable in order to prevent aromaevaporation and humidity loss as well as to hinder aroma mixing withother products stored in the same room.– The cap should guarantee hermetical sealing.A3.3.1 Materials and product presentationIn Castile-La Mancha (producer – trader), materials used for theinitial package, namely the one that comes in contact with the product,vary: cellulose, plastics (polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, PET,PVC, cellophane), glass, aluminum, tin foil etc. All these materials donot provide best conservation but obey to market norms and usages.The best conservation material is the one protecting saffron from lightand humidity exposure, without transmitting anything to the productsuch as smell, aroma etc. Usually saffron is packed in small packages(net weight 5 g). The form commonly used is in bulk. Generally, smallpolyethylene bags are used, packed in cartons or metal containers.Various packing presentations are disposed to the packer – distributor,but single dose packages (of 1 mg) are mostly preferred as well aspackages less than 5 g. The packing material is cellulose or transparentfoil (used mostly for saffron threads). Generally the retailer-consumerdoes not ask for packages containing more than 5 g. of saffron. A marketalso exists for saffron in bulks. This market addresses food productionenterprises, caterings or enterprises that pack the product under theirown brand name (using mostly polyethylene bags placed in cartons ormetal containers). These are the most technological advanced enterprisesthat use packages in controlled or neutral environment (usingvacuum packing machines and materials that hinder oxygen and humiditypenetration).In Sardinia (producer – trader), glass containers, paper or plasticare used for saffron packages. Furthermore, tone and cork packagesare used as a traditional Sardinian packaging material. The packagesweigh between 1/10 g and 5 g.In Western Macedonia (producer – trader), saffron is packed in tinfoil containers, in plastic boxes or bags, in glass containers or in multilayeredbags. Saffron stigmas are packed in:A) Plastic boxes:· 1g box (package 12 x 1g = 12g and 6 x 12g = 72g)· 1g box (package 12 x 1g = 12g and 6 x 12g = 72g, 12 x 12g = 144g)· 2g box (package 12 x 2g = 24g and 6 x 12 x 2g = 144g)· 4g box (package 12 x 4g = 48g and 6 x 48g = 288g)135

B) Tin foil packages 28g (package 6 x 28g = 168g)C) Glass jars· 1g jar (package 6 x 1g = 6g and 6 x 6g = 36g)· 2g jar (package 6 x 2g = 12g and 6 x 12g = 72g)Organic saffron is packed:Α) In threads within glass jar:· 1g jar (package 2 x 1g = 2g)Β) In threads within plastic boxes:· 0,5g box (package 12 x 0,5g = 6g)C) in bags as powder:· 1g (package 12 x 1g = 12g and 6 x 12g = 72g and 12 x 12g = 144g)· 0,5g (package 12 x 0,5g = 6g)· 0,25g (package 40 x 0,25g = 10g and 12 x 10g = 120g)· 0,125g (package 4 x 0,124g = 0,50g)A3.3.2 Packaging processIn Castile-La Mancha, (producers – traders) all packaging stagesof saffron, from filling to etiquette attaching, are performed by hand. Itis not common for the producers-traders to apply mechanized procedures.Despite the fact that some packaging enterprises have tried to mechanizepackaging of saffron threads, the majority of the saffron sector carriesout this task by hand. The manual procedures involved are weighingand cleaning. Due to the fragility of the threads that should not breakand the need for accurate weighing, mechanization becomes impossible.Precession scales are used for Saffron weighing in small portions andthe maximum admissible variation is strictly defined by law and relatesto production criteria and customer demands. Saffron powder packed inone use packages belongs to the mechanized tasks carried out by packers– distributors. This procedure is very well developed and packagingenterprises use great efficiency and dosing accuracy machines. Thesame machine can also attach etiquettes on the package.In Sardinia (producer – trader), packaging is carried out by handin most of the cases. Only large-scale enterprises perform mechanizedpackaging with machines that grind the stigmas and supply appropriatedosing. In Sardinia there are only two enterprises of that kind.In Western Macedonia (producer – trader), saffron stigmas areweighted and packed by hand. The self-adhesive etiquettes on the out-136

side of the package are placed by hand. Saffron powder is packed insmall bags by the use of a special machine that weighs and seals thebags. The bags are placed in transport boxes by hand.A3.3.3Use of cover gasesIn Castile-La Mancha (packer – distributor), cover gases are usedin packages. This is a new developed procedure that aims at extendinglife span of saffron as well as at preventing oxidation that reducesthe chemical and organoleptic features of the product. For obtaining apackage under an adequate inert atmosphere, it is important to controlthe package material and ensure vacuum sealing.A3.4 STORAGE AFTER PACKAGINGIn Castile-La Mancha (producer – trader), saffron is packed pursuantto the customer demands. Due to direct retailing, no storage isnecessary.In the case of saffron sold in retail, the packaging material consistsof carton boxes that make transport easier due to their low weight. Theproduct is sold directly from the boxes and is not stored longer than twodays. Storage time by packers – distributors is also very short becausethe product is sold soon after packaging. The packed product remainsin room temperature and humidity but it is recommended to store theproduct even during this short time, in a cool and dry environment.In Sardinia (producer – trader) storage lasts also only few days becausethe product is packed pursuant to the trader demands.In Western Macedonia (producer – trader), the average storage timeafter packing lasts an average of five years.137



Saffron flower (UCLM)

QUALITY DETERMINATIONTECHNIQUES IN SPAIN, GREECEAND ITALYIt is difficult to define the term“saffron quality”, since there is a largenumber of parameters that have tobe evaluated. In a simplified way, allthese parameters can be separatedin two larger groups: endogenousparameters (those defining the featurespossessed by the spice) and exogenousparameters (those that arenot part of the spice). Further on, thefirst group can be separated in twosubgroups: physiochemical parameterssuch as humidity, ashes content,coloring intensity etc, defined by specificevaluation techniques, and organolepticparameters, defined by a sensoryanalysis. Exogenous parameterscertify, through quality controls, thepurity of the spice and ensure thatthe amount of bacterial flora andpesticides are lower than the amountdefined by law. The following chapterdescribes all applied techniques usedfor quality determination in the threeregions.Saffron flowers in atypical Spanish basket(UCLM)A4.1PHYSIOCHEMICAL DE-TERMINATIONThis group concentrates all parametersused for quality control such ascoloring intensity or humidity content.The most significant difference amongthe three regions studied herein, is thereference framework for quality determination.Hence, while Sardinia ap-141

plies techniques used in European pharmaceutical industry, Greeceand Spain work pursuant to ISO/TS 3632. Further, Spain uses alsodifferent standards and regulations with various objectives: export qualitydetermination, quality determination for domestic market or qualityguarantee and protection for saffron production in different geographicalregions.The supplied information regarding physiochemical determinationis divided in three chapters: techniques based on the European pharmaceuticalindustry, techniques pursuant to ISO/TS 3632 and finallyvarious technical specifications.A4.1.1 TECHNIQUES BASED ON THE EUROPEAN PHARMACEUTICALINDUSTRYThe techniques for quality determination in Sardinia are based onmethods of the European pharmaceutical industry or on other methodsdeveloped by local researchers. They certify that various parameters arewithin the limits defined by law as demonstrated in table 6.ParameterAcceptable limitWeight loss (% p/p) Not more than 10 %Coloring intensity (A – 440 nm) Not less than 0,44Crude ashes (% p/p) Not more than 7 %Crocine (% p/p) Not less than 7,28 %Table 6. Parameters defined by Italian Law regarding saffronA4.1.1.1Weight loss determination through dryingDrying takes place in a desiccant unit with air circulation at 105oC.A saffron sample of 0,2 g (threads) is placed in an aluminum capsuleof a 10 cm diameter. The capsule remains in the desiccant unit at theabove temperature until its weight is stabilized. Upon completion of thetest performed on all samples that were delivered a day before, the dryresidue is weighed. The comparison to the initial weight before dryinggives the percentage of weight loss during drying.142

A4.1.1.2Determination through crude ashesIt is performed pursuant to the description of the European pharmaceuticalindustry, on saffron samples dried at 105 o C in desiccantunit until weight is stabilized. After exact weighing, the saffron sampleis placed in a porcelain capsule and is burned at direct contact to theflame. The weight of the ashes is rendered in percentage of the dry material.All values measured for the San Gavino Monreale production arelower than the highest admissible percentage and vary between 4,98and 5,60 %.A4.1.1.3Determination through n-hexane extractablesIt is performed on saffron thread samples dried at 105oC in desiccantunit until weight stabilized and through a cold treatment with n-hexanein distillery. After extraction, the remaining substance is dried in nitrogenstream and is weighed. The weight difference is rendered in percentagefor 100 g of dried material. Having regards to the traditional techniqueconsisting in soaking the stigmas with extra virgin oil, a cold washing inn-hexane takes place, determining the weight of the extract. The obtainedquantitative data vary between 0,89 and 1,09 %.A4.1.1.4Determination of coloring powerIt is performed pursuant to the description of the European pharmaceuticalindustry, on saffron samples dried at 105oC in desiccantunit until weight is stabilized. These samples are treated afterwards indouble distilled water for a certain period of time. The coloring ability isdetermined through measurement of the transmission optical densityin 440 nm extract solution. The transmission optical density measurementsare performed by a double ray UV-Vis spectrophotometer.A4.1.1.5Safranol extraction and picrocrocine hydrolysis5 g of dried Saffron, fatless and lightly powdered together with 30ml of n-hexane are placed in a 50 ml distiller bottle equipped with mechanicalagitator and deposited coolant. The suspension is agitated at aconstant diluent reflux temperature. It is protected from light exposureand is kept within a small quantity of nitrogen. After three hours, themixture is cooled at a room temperature and is separated through filtrationin 0,45 μm Hewlett-Packard filters cod. HP-5181-1246. The solidanalyte is washed three times with 10 ml diluent. Each time, the washingsolution is mixed with the initial infiltrate. A certain amount of phenconeis added to the succeeded solution that is submitted to chromatographicanalysis in gas form in order to determine the safranol content according143

to the procedure described by Moretti et al. After removing the diluentthrough light nitrogen inflation, the remaining solution is submitted todistillation in vapor stream with alkaline material (NaOH 0,1 N) in a Clevengerapparatus. The oily phase created during the extracting procedureis concentrated in the volumetric part of the apparatus, which containsa certain amount of pure xylol to which a certain amount of phencone(internal standard) has been added. After completion of the essentialoil distillation, the increase of the organic phase is determined. Afterdehydration in anhydrous sodium sulphate the substance is weightedand filled in dark glass containers where it remains at 4 o C until chromatographicdetermination of safranol in a gas phase, which is formedby pricrocrocine hydrolysis, contained in saffron.A4.1.1.6Chromatographic determination of safranol in a gas phaseThe determination is carried out in a Carlo Erba HRSGC Series 5300gas phase chromatograph, equipped with flame ionization detector (FID)connected to a Hewlett-Packard 3396 Series II integrator that containsa connected phase molted silicon capillary column Carbowax 20M (15mm x 0,25 mm, layer thickness 0,25 μm). Analysis is performed in followingconditions: room temperature is programmed by a thermostatto rise from 50 to 180oC, with 3oC /mn rise, initial isotherm 8 mn andinitial phase 20 mn. Injection block and detector temperature is at 200and 220oC respectively. Helium with 0,5 ml/min flow is used as a carrier.The quality determination of safranol is carried out by the use ofthe inner measure. The values obtained in the analyzed samples varybetween 3,83 and 4,82 %.A4.1.1.7Extraction of characteristic components of the substanceThe extraction tests are performed with methanol at a room temperature.In short, 100 mg of dry, oil free substance and exact weightedsubstance are placed in a volumetric distillation bottle that contains25 ml of anhydrous methanol and a magnetic armature. The system isagitated constantly (600 r / min) at a room temperature, unexposed tolight and in nitrogen atmosphere until color residue is formed. Uponcompletion of the extraction procedure, the exhausted substance isseparated from the solution through vacuum filtration and is washed inclear methanol until the washing water becomes colorless. The washingwater is added to the extracted solution until the desired volume of thesolution is reached. The residue is dried in a chamber at 105oC untilweight is stabilized.The values for the dried substance vary around 70% with minimumvalue at 67,73% and maximum value at 72,25%. Bibliography data withreference to the aqueous extract vary from 55% to 60%.144

A4.1.1.8extractsCrocine, picrocrocine and safranol determination in methanolThe quantitative determination of the characteristic componentsof saffron is carried out by absorbance measurements in metabolicsubstance extracts that dissolve appropriately in the following wavelengths:· 440 nm for crocine· 318 nm for safranol· 257 nm for picrocrocineWe use as blank the same diluent, existing in the extract. The absorbancemeasurements are performed with a double ray UV Vis spectrophotometer.The quantitative indications are calculated in respectto the A values (1%, 1 cm). In accordance with the law, the lowest absorptionlimit is 0,44 for 440 nm solution extract that derives from thetreatment of 0,10 g saffron with 5 ml water after diluting 1 ml of theinitial solution up to 500 ml. The absorption values in 440 nm of waterextracts produced in San Gavino Monreale, vary between 0,96 and 1,13.The quantitative values of absorption measurements at 440 mm of themetabolic extracts show that the crocine content, rendered in crocine1, varies between 17,45% and 19,27%. The quantitative data regardingpicrocrocine vary between 24,54% and 30,09%.A4.1.2 TECHNIQUES BASED ON ISO 3632ISO (International Organization for Standardization) has establishedthe technical specification ISO/TS 3632 2003 (parts 1 and 2,regarding saffron specifications and testing methods respectively). TheISO standard for saffron has been altered three times (1980, 1993 and2003) since its initial creation in 1975. The text of the ISO standardhas been consecutive improved and adapted to the international tradedemands of the spice. The 1980 issue defined three commercial categorieswith flower residue tolerance between 7 and 20%. Concerningchemical terms, the maximum admissible humidity was at 14% for saffronthreads and at 8% for saffron powder. Minimum values regardingcrude ashes content, cold water diluted extract and nitrogen contentwere also defined as well as a minimum value for coloring power thatwere measured through absorbance measurements at 440 nm. Theaqueous solution was the afloat received before filtration and duringdetermination in cold water soluble extract according to the proceduredescribed in ISO 941:1980.The next issue, the one of 1993, defined the commercial categoriesanew and standardized the parameters defining the international trade145

quality of the saffron spice. One of the main parameters was coloringpower through crocine, pricrocrocine and safranol measurement. Indeed, this new issue of the initial document defined four different saffronqualities (I to IV) depending on coloring power and picrococine.The minimum value for coloring power in each category was: 190, 150,110 and 80. It described a new method for crocine, picrocrocine andsafranol determination. This was possible through visual UV spectrophotometrythat is also used nowadays but with a few amendments.On the other hand, the document readjusted the maximum humiditycontent and volatile substances and described new cellulose values.The specifications annulated also the criteria for minimum percentagevalues for cold water soluble extract and nitrogen.The 2003 issue contains important amendments, questioned by theenterprises of the sector, especially regarding detection of adulterations.The four quality categories for saffron threads or powder were reducedto three, determined by coloring power at 440 nm (190, 150 and100). The category IV of the former ISO was annulated, given the factthat a product with more than 80 units of coloring power can not beconsidered as saffron. The new ISO specification has unified the criteriasuch as “maximum non soluble ashes content” for the three categoriesand annulated the specifications regarding nitrogen and cellulose.References to the bitterness of picrocrocine were also eliminated fromthe ISO.The saffron produced in the region of Kozani (Greece) as well as theone produced in Castile-La Mancha (Spain) was certified by ISO 3632.They were classified in category I (superior quality), provided that thecultivation exceeds the ISO technical specification limits.146

FeaturesFeaturesI II IIIFlower residue (mass percentage), max. % 0,5 3 5Foreign material (mass percentage), max. % 0,1 0,5 1,0Table 7. Saffron classification according to natural featuresdefined by ISO 3632-1FeaturesSpecifications CategoriesI II IIIHumidity and volatile substances content(mass percentage), max %Saffron threadsSaffron powder121012101210Crude ashes (mass) in dry matter, max. % 8 8 8Non soluble ashes in HCI (mass percentage), in drymatter, max. %Extract soluble in cold water (mass percentage),max. %.E 1%1cm 257 nm dry matter, min.(maximum picrocrocine absorption value)1,0 1,0 1,565 65 6570 55 40E 1%1cm 330 nm in dry matter:Min.Max.(maximum safranol absorption value)205020502050Coloring power E 1%1cm 440 in dry matter, min.(At this wavelength maximum crocine absorption isachieved)190 150 100Hydrosoluble artificial coloring acids Absence Absence AbsenceTable 8. Saffron classification according physiochemicalfeatures defined by ISO 3632-1147

A4.1.2.1 Saffron humidity and volatile substancesThe ISO organization, nowadays, has published ISO 939:1980, definingthus a method used for humidity detection in spices. This methodcan not apply to saffron due to the large amount of necessary samples.For this reason, the technical specification ISO/TS 3632-2:2003, subsection7, suggests a special determination method for saffron.Determination of the humidity of saffron (threads or powder) and ofits volatile substances is carried out according to following procedure: anexact amount of 2,5 g of saffron is weighed by a precision scale (± 0,001 g)on a well dried microscope glass slide. The slide with the sample is placedin a furnace at 103oC ± 2 o C for 16 hours. Determination of humidity andvolatile substance, is performed according to following formula: WHV =(mo – m1) x (100/mo) %. m0 is the initial sample mass rendered in g andm1 is the mass of the sample after drying (rendered in g).The dried material will be kept in hydrochloric acid ashes for furtherdetermination of the crude ashes according to ISO 928:1997 and ISO930:1997 respectively.A4.1.2.2 Crude ashes in dry matterCrude ashes percentage is calculated in two grams of saffron sample(already used for humidity determination) and according to ISO928:1997. The calculated percentage is approximately at 8%. Followingprocedure is applied: 2 g of saffron are placed in a porcelain capsuleand weighed with a precision of about 0,1 mg. The capsule has beenheated in a chamber for an hour at approximately 550 o C ± 25 o C, thencooled in a dryer and weighed precisely with a variation of 0,1 mg. Thecapsule is heated on a plate until the sample is carbonized. Afterwards,the capsule is placed in a furnace and remains there for 2 hours at550oC ± 25 o C. The ashes are cooled and wetted with water drops thatevaporate in thermostatic bath until they are totally dry. The capsule isheated in the furnace for 1 hour at 550oC ± 25oC and is weighed every30 minutes until weight is stabilized. Heating, cooling and weighingare repeated until the difference between continuous weighing does notexceed 0,5 g.The crude ashes, rendered in mass percentage, are calculated accordingto following formula: Wct = (m2 – m0) x (100/m0)%, where m0 isthe mass of the sole capsule in gram and m1 is the mass of the samplein gram, while m2 is the mass of the capsule and the mass of the crudeashes, rendered in gram.148

A4.1.2.3. Ashes non soluble in acid, in dry matterDetermination of saffron ashes (threads or powder), non-soluble inacid water solution, according to ISO 930:1997. The maximum contentof ashes non-soluble in acid (rendered in dry matter) is approximatelyat 1%. The total amount of ashes non-soluble in acid is defined as crudeashes percentage that remains after hydrochloric acid treatment andsample heating until weight is stabilized.15 ml of hydrochloric acid are added to the total quantity of theashes in the capsule used for preparation. The solution is heated withhot water in a thermostatic bath for 10 minutes (the capsule is coveredwith a glass plate in order to prevent drops from spouting). The contentof the capsule is filtered in a paper filter with no ashes. The paper filteris washed in warm water in order remove the hydrochloric acid. Theoutcome can be affirmed with the help of silver nitrate. If the infiltratedsolution does not blur after adding silver nitrate then no hydrochloricacid is present. The paper filter is placed again in the capsule and isincinerated in a furnace for one hour at 550 o C ± 25 o C. Weighing takesplace every 20 minutes until weight is stabilized. Heating, cooling andweighing are repeated until the difference between continuous weighingdoes not exceed 0,5 g.The ashes non-soluble in acid, rendered in mass percentage, are calculatedaccording to following formula: WCI = (m2 – m0) x (100/m0)%.m0 is the mass of the sole capsule in gram, m1 is the mass of thesample in gram and m2 is the mass of the capsule together with the ashes.The outcome is rendered in decimal numerals and in percentage.A4.1.2.4. Flower residuesThe term “flower residue” refers to all free and open yellow threads(columns), pollen, stamens, ovarian parts as well as various other partsfrom the saffron flower (Crocus sativus Linnaeus).The amount of flower residue is determined as follows: 3 g of saffronare weighed on a precision scale (deviation ± 0,01 g). The sampleis then spread out on a grey paper. With a pair of pliers the stigmasare separated from the flower residues. The residues are then weighedwhile placed on a glass plate that has been already dried and weighed.The flower residue determination is calculated according to followingformula: WRF = (m2 – m1) x (100/m0)%. m0 is the mass of the saffronsample rendered in gram, m1 is the mass of the glass plate in gram andm2 is the mass of the glass plate together with the flower residue.149

A4.1.2.5 Foreign materialsThe term “foreign materials” refers to the leaves, stems, straws andany other vegetable material. The only permissible mineral materialis sand, soil and dust. They should be removed according to the ISO927:1982 procedure.3 g of a saffron sample are weighed on a precision scale (variation ±0,01 g). The sample is then spread out on a grey paper. With a pair ofpliers the stigmas are separated from the foreign material. The foreignmaterial is then weighed while placed on a glass plate that has beenalready weighed. The amount of foreign material is calculated accordingto following formula: WME = (m2 – m1) x (100/m0)%. m0 is the massof the saffron sample rendered in gram, m1 is the mass of the glassplate in gram and m2 is the mass of the glass plate together with theforeign material. The outcome is rendered in double decimal percentage(m/m).A4.1.2.6 Extract soluble in cold water, in dry matterThe maximum content of extract soluble in cold water is determinedin a 2 gram sample according to ISO 941:1980. The extract lies at approximately65%.The applied procedure is as follows: a sample of 2 g is weighed witha variation of 1 mg. The sample is placed in a volumetric 100 ml bottle.The bottle is filled with distilled water according to ISO 3696:1996and sealed. The bottle is agitated for 1 minute every 30 minutes for theduration of 8 hours. The solution rests for 16 hours with no furtheragitation. The extract is filtered through an average porosity paper filter.An infiltrate fraction of 50 ml is received which is placed in capsule thathas been already dried and weighted accurately (deviation 1 mg). Theinfiltrate is evaporated and dried in a boiling bath. The capsule with theextract is heated in a furnace for 1 hour at 103oC ±2oC. The sample isthen cooled in the dryer and weighed. Heating, cooling and weighingare repeated until the difference between two continuous weightings isless than 2 mg.The extract soluble in cold water and rendered in mass percentageof the dry matter is calculated according to following formula: WES =(PF – Po/ PM) x (100/100-H) x 200%. PF is the capsule weight togetherwith the extract, Po is the weight of the sole capsule, PM is the sampleweight and H is the humidity content of the sample. The outcome isrendered in double decimal percentage (m/m).150

A4.1.2.7 Ethereal extractEthereal extract is the aggregate of substances obtained from petroleumether under the conditions defined by in the following method.It can be applied with continuous extraction or with Soxhlet extractionsystem. A paper filter cartridge is placed in the continuous extractionapparatus or in the Soxhlet system and a dried sample fraction of 1 gis accurately weighted (variation 1 mg). The cartridge is placed in theextractor. 50 ml petroleum ether are added in the extraction glass or150 ml in the round bottle of the Soxhlet system. Extraction lasts 1½hour in the continuous extraction apparatus and 8 hours in the Soxhletsystem. Moving forward to the evaporation stage, we place the glass ofthe extraction appliance or the bottle in a drying furnace and heat it for30 minutes at 103 o C ±2 o C. The sample is then cooled in the dryer untilit reaches room temperature and can be weighed.The ethereal extract rendered in mass percentage of the initialdried sample mass is calculated according to following formula: WEE =(P1– Po/ PM) x 100%. P1 is the glass or bottle weight together with theethereal extract, Po is the sole glass or bottle weight, PM is the sampleweight. The outcome is rendered in double decimal percentage (m/m).A4.1.2.8 NitrogenThe procedure for nitrogen determination is described in the ISO1871:1975 “Agricultural food products – General directions for the determinationof nitrogen by the Kjeldhal method”. A sample of 1 g isweighted accurately in the digester tube (variation 10 mg). Three partsof Kjeldhal catalyst (Cu-Se)(1,5% CiSO4 • 5H2O + 2%) are placed ineach tube. 25 ml of acid sulphide is placed in each tube. The sampleis heated at 420oC. When the sample reaches 420oC, the temperatureis held constant for half hour keeping the sample clean and clear. Weremove the tubes from the unit and leave it to for 15 minutes to cool atroom temperature. 50 ml of distilled water are added in each tube. Thecool tube is attached to the distiller and 120 ml of sodium hydroxideare added at 32%. The distiller is set on, concentrating 150 ml extractin a 250 ml Erlenmeyer bottle that contains 25 ml of boric acid at 4%with indicator. 150 ml of the extract are enriched with hydrochloric acid0,25N until red color appears.The nitrogen percentage of the sample is calculated according tofollowing formula: Nitrogen% = (N x v) x (1,4 / P). v is the hydrochloricacid volume 0,25N in ml, P is the weight of the sample in gram. Theoutcome is rendered in double decimal percentage (m/m).151

A4.1.2.9 UV-Vis SpectrophotometryThis method enables the determination of the main features of saffronregarding picrocrocine, safranol and crocine content. Greek andSpanish producers and enterprises use the method described in section14 of the technical specification ISO/TS 3632-2:2003. The Spanishgovernment (inspection authority SOIVRE) uses the SOIVRE methodto determine the coloring ability of saffron destined for export to nonEuropean Community countries.Technical Specification ISO / TS 3632-2:2003, section 14The following procedure is applied: 500 mg of saffron are weighed ina precision scale (variation ± 1 mg). The sample is placed in a 1000 mlvolumetric bottle and 900 ml of distilled water are added. The solutionis agitated with a magnetic agitator (1000 rounds / minute) for an hourwhile it is protected from light exposure. Water up to 1000 ml is thenadded and the solution is homogenized through agitation. 20 ml of thesolution are decanted to a 200 ml volumetric bottle and water is added.The solution is homogenized through agitation. The solution is filteredthrough water absorbent polytetrafluoroethylene filter (PTFE) with a 0,45mm pore diameter. The solution is placed in quartz tube and a transmissionoptical density between 200 and 700 nm is measured usingwater as reference fluid. The ISO shows an example of a characteristicspectrum for this solution measured between the above two wavelengths(picture 1). Alterations to this spectrum reveal the existence of adulterationusing significant amounts of exogenous dye material.152

Picture 5. UV-Vis absorption spectrum characteristic for saffronaqueous solutionOn the other hand, the absorption is determined in three wavelengths(λmax): at 257 nm where picrocrocine demonstrates its maximumabsorption level, at 330 nm where safranol demonstrates its maximumabsorption level and at 440 nm for coloring power determination.The three wavelengths are calculated according to following formulawhere D is the absorption value for each wavelength, m is the saffronmass in gram and H is the sample humidity and volatile substancescontent in percentage %. The minimum value coloring power (440 nm)in category I is 190. The minimum absorption at 257 nm ( 257 nm) forcategory I is 70, while absorption at 300 nm ( 300 nm) varies between20 (min) and 50 (max).This test shows two significant points regarding coloring power ofsaffron: the smaller the particles are after grinding, the higher is theobtained value of the coloring power. For this reason, saffron shouldbe grinded so that 95 % of the powder can pass through the 500 μm“sieve”. This is a quality norm for saffron powder that should be fulfilled.In other cases the sample fraction should be grinded until such particlesize is reached.The other important point is the agitation speed for the extractionof the saffron’s dye substances: the higher the speed the greater theextracted amount. According to ISO 1000 rounds per minute shouldbe used even if the magnetic agitators do not allow the verification ofsuch speed. We can assume that this speed is reached when the createdsolution vortex reaches the round bottom of the bottle.153

A4.1.2.10 SOIVRE method for coloring power determinationThis method enables the determination of the coloring power of asaffron fraction sample in less than two hours. Hence, this time-savingmethod is used by the Spanish authorities for controlling the saffron lotsdestined for export to non European community countries. The mainadvantage of this method is that it can be applied in dry sample whilethe ISO 3632 method needs a foregoing humidity and volatile substancesdetermination. For this reason the sample should be dried in a furnacefor 16 hours at 103 o C ±2 o C. Both methods give results in dry matter butthe SOIVRE method shows immediate results. Comparisons in order tofulfill the requirements of the ISO 17025 have taken place. The resultingvalues from both methods are similar and show relative variations of lessthan 2,5 %.In short the method is performed as follows: we weigh a sample ofapproximately 3 gr. The sample is placed in a furnace for drying at 103 o C±2 o C for 30 minutes. After drying we proceed according to the saffron type:grinded and dried saffron should be homogenized with a spatula andshould pass through a 0,5 mm light “sieve”. 95% of the sample shouldpass the “sieve”. Saffron threads and powder should pass at 95% throughthe light “sieve”. We weigh a sample of 1 gr and place it in a bottle (500ml of 3d degree water are added according to ISO3696:1996). We agitatefor 15 minutes and leave the solution to rest for 5 minutes. A fractionsample of 2 ml is received from the middle zone and mixed with 100 mlof water. An instant absorption determination takes place at 440 nm. Theabsorption value is multiplied by the factor 250 and the coloring powervalue is calculated according to following formula:Coloring power (E 1cm1%) = Absorption 440x 250A4.1.3 OTHER TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONSIn Spain, apart from the Technical Specification ISO / TS 3632 thatdetermines saffron quality, there are other standards, regulations andtechnical specifications to which all enterprises and producers of the sectorhave to comply:Saffron quality standard for foreign trading (NCCEA 1988, 1999): definessaffron qualities and specifications for export.Technical health regulation for treatment, circulation and distributionof spices (RTS 1984): defines the features for imported saffron spicesdestined for the Spanish market.Designation of Origin “La Mancha saffron” (PDO 1999): defines thespecifications for saffron protected by its origin. Applied to saffron, producedand dried in the region of Castile La-Mancha.154

Technical specification for the use of the term “Food quality” for“Aragon saffron” (RT 2003): defines the specifications for saffron derivingfrom specific regions of Aragon.Each standard or regulation has its own technical specifications anddefinitions regarding categories and various parameter values. Table 5.4demonstrates in brief, a comparison of various other standards in relationto the ISO / TS 3632:2003. It shows among others that some parameters,such as coloring power, protected by the Designation of Origin “La Manchasaffron”, respond to more demanding criteria, than those defined bythe ISO.155

ISO/TS 3632:2003Quality norm for foreign tradeCategoryDesignationofOrigin “LaManchasaffron”RTAragonSaffronParameters I II III Selecto Río Sierra Standard Cut -- -- --Flower residues(% max.)Foreign material(% max.)Humidity - volatilematerial (%max.)- saffron threads- saffron powder0.5 3 5 4 7 10 7 - 0.5 0.5 100.1 0.5 1.0 NS 0.1 0.1 NS121012101210158158Crude ashes,in dry matter (max %) 8 8 8 5 - 8 5 - 8 5 - 8 5 - 8 5 - 8 8 5 – 8 8Crude ashes non solublein acid,in dry matter (max %)Extract soluble in coldwater, in dry matter(max %)Ethereal extract in drymatter (min % - max %)Coloring intensity orCrocine (E 1 cm1% 440nm) in dry matter (min.)Picrocrocine (E 1 cm1%257 nm) in dry matter(min.)Safranal (E 1 cm1% 330nm) in dry matter- minimum- maximum1581581 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 265 65 65 NS 65 NS NSNE3.5– 14.53.5–14.53.5–14.53.5– 14.51583.5– 14.511--1212RTSSpain15153.5-14.5 NS 3.5-14.5190 150 100 180 150 110 130 190 200 190 NS70 55 40 NS 70 70 – 150 NS205020502050Artificial water solubleacid dye substances Absence NS NS NS NSNS20--2050NSSafranal (% min.) NS NS 65 NS NSMetalsNS NS NS NSAs < 3 ppmPb < 10ppmRough cellulose(% max)NS NS NS NS 6NS: Not specified in the ISOTable 9. Comparison of the physiochemical features of saffronaccording to Spanish quality control standards156

A4.2 ORGANOLEPTIC ANALYSISOrganoleptic analysis is used for different purposes in the regions ofSardinia and Castile-La Mancha. In Castile-La Mancha this method ofevaluation aims at defining the various saffron types, while in Sardiniaits main objective is the differentiation of various qualities.A4.2.1 In SardiniaThe saffron samples are presented in equal amounts, at room temperature,in glass containers covered with aluminum foliage in orderto value their bitterness, sweet taste and aroma. A water solution isprepared containing 250 mg/l of saffron. During test, descriptors aresupplied with mineral water with reduced solid residue as well as withnon salty toasted bread in order to neutralize the taste while movingfrom one sample to the next. Maximum, three samples are presentedin each session.During the training phase of the descriptors in the method of organolepticevaluation (UNI U 590o 1950, 1998), the first sessions arededicated to the creation of a common vocabulary describing the organolepticfeatures (descriptions). The following sessions aimed at learningthe appropriate use of the description card. During the sessions thesamples were numbered randomly with three figure numbers, while allsamples were presented to each taster in random succession for eachsession. The use of the card for each session enabled monitoring reliabilityof each taster regarding the evaluation of the samples that werechosen for determining the organoleptic profile. A group of 11 personswas chosen for the evaluation (6 women and 5 men) aged between 26and 55 years.During the training phase a vocabulary was created, consisting of10 descriptors:3 descriptors for the image (red color, yellow color, homogeneity)2 descriptors for aroma (aroma, global aroma, spicy)2 descriptors for taste (bitter and sweet)1 descriptor for complex taste and aroma1 descriptor for tactile sensation (astringent)The sensory profile of saffron is demonstrated in the followingscheme157

Sensory profile of saffronAstringentFloralBitterHomogeneity86420Yellow colorRed colorFloralSweetSpicyGlobal aromaFig. 6. Sensory profile of saffron produced in SpainA4.2.2. In Castile La-ManchaThe Regulatory Authorities for the Designation of Origin “La Manchasaffron” consist of a committee of specialized tasters participating at theselection of the best saffron of the year. A special testing card as well asa tasting handbook is used for this purpose (picture 5.3).Excellent Very good good deficient Not Accepted Total REMARQUESHomogeneity 5 4 3 2 1IMAGECOLORShade 7 6 5 4 3Intensity 7 6 5 4 3Extraneous material 6 5 4 3 2Appearance 10 8 6 4 2INTENSITY 12 10 8 6 4SENSATIONGUSTATORY-OLFACTORYTEXTUREODORFRESHNESS 8 7 6 5 4ATYPICAL ODOR 7 6 5 4 3AROMA 8 7 6 5 4BITTERNESS 8 7 6 5 4PERSISTENCE OF TASTE 7 6 5 4 3FRAGILITY 8 7 6 5 4HUMIDITY 7 6 5 4 3TOTALPicture 5.3. Tasting card for the Designation of Origin “La Mancha”158

The saffron is rated on a scale from 0 to 100. The scale is dividedin five groups: excellent (86 points or more), very good (between 85and 71 points), good (between 70 and 56 points), deficient (between 55and 41 points) and not acceptable (40 points or less). The Designationof Origin “La Mancha” is attributed only to saffron with more than 71points (minimum points for “very good”) and with no “deficient” or “notacceptable” in any of the cards columns.The card is divided in three parts: image, gustatory-olfactory sensation,and texture. The descriptions for image, texture and odor of gustatory-olfactorysensation, define the features of saffron threads. Therest is defined by water solution. A short description of the informationcontained in the tasting handbook, regarding the descriptors of thetasting card, is as follows:ImageImage represents 35% of the rating scale. Subject to evaluation iseverything on the sample that can be observed with the help of magnifyingglass (magnified at least 10x).The color and its variations, that depend on the drying method of thesample, are the most important trading parameters. The card attributesgreat importance on these parameters, color occupies 19% of the scaleand is divided in three parameters. All the threads should be homogenous.The tint should be deep red but can also vary from intensive redto tile-colored or orange due alteration of the natural dye substances.Some darker tone appears also, which is the product of intensive dryingand increased humidity. The samples dried in hot air are redder andshinier. The strong red variations are highly regarded. The strong andvigorous intensity of the color is highly regarded as well.The magnifying lens helps allocating various foreign material amongthe stigmas: flower residue, pollen, dust or dirt. If such elements existthe rating is falls and the sample is rejected if more than 0,1 % of foreignmaterial, mould or insects exist.The appearance of the sample involves a specified amount of features:length and width of the stigmas, “trumpet” thickness, perfectjoint of the stigmas to the column and its length (longer than 22 mil) inrelation to the other elements. Most of the points are awarded to jointed,thick, bright and homogenous stigmas, with light yellow or light orangecolumn or with dark straw tint (due to drying).Olfactory and gustatory sensationIt contains an aggregate of parameters such as odor, aroma, tasteand stimulating or aggressive sensations that are noticed in the mouth.The above aggregation of the sensation criteria represents 50% of thetotal points.159

Odor is a sensation perceivable by the sense of smell when the nosecaptures directly a volatile substance. The odor should be evaluatedregarding intensity, freshness and the absence of non characteristicsmells. The intensity is directly related to quality (or negatively relatedin case of deficiencies). The smell is characterized as deficient when itis combined with smoke, burning, animal flavors, fermentation, rancidness,mould, fried vegetables, rubber, decay and medicines, and manyothers. Fresh odor is the odor related to the origin of the saffron flowersand the products of drying and conservation. New saffron smells lightflowery, sweet and pleasant even if the intensity varies greatly, dependingon the drying method. Older saffron smells intensive, spicy, heavyand is always connected with deficiencies such as rancidness, mouldor to resemblances of fermented objects. Overdrying can give a smell ofburning while bad storage conditions could lead to odor deficiencies. Ifthe group of the atypical odor is unpleasant or does not add anythinginteresting or “special” to the sample then it will have a negative impacton rating.The aroma is perceivable through the rear nasal area. The taste isdetermined through the mouth, using saffron threads or powder dissolvedin water. As soon as the aroma is located it is respectively classifiedto one of the related categories contained in the handbook and thegroup as well as the intensity is noted.The bitterness should not be very strong and should create a pleasantand sustaining sensation. Intensive bitter taste can lead to penalties.The persistence of taste describes how long the sensation of tasteremains in the mouth after the sample is swallowed. The remaining tasteshould not be stronger than the taste of the sample held in the mouth.The duration of the stimulus, the after–taste and its nature, must beevaluated.TextureFragility of saffron is a mechanical property of the texture, relatedto the cohesion and the necessary strength for breaking the stigma intopieces. It is obtained by pressing the saffron between the fingers andevaluating its flexibility. In order to obtain high points the sample shouldnot break after pressing, because breaking will mean that the sample isdry or has a glassy texture.Humidity is a superficial property of the texture and relates to theamount of absorbed water by the stigma or the amount of the watershed by the stigma. Saffron should contain a certain amount of waterin order not to look like a straw or loose color when touched by fingers(due to excessive viscosity).160

A4.3 ADULTERATIONSDue to its high trading value, saffron is the most adulterated spice.The most common saffron adulterations are mentioned in the table 5.5.Pure saffron should not contain any other substances. The term adulterationrefers to the addition of mineral substances, oils or molassesfor increasing weight on the one hand, and on the other, it refers to theaddition of various dye material in order to improve its image.According to ISO / TS 3632:2003, saffron is considered to be purewhen the samples fulfill the requirements defined in the technical specificationsection 1 and when no other substance is added to the naturalproduct. With the ISO of 1993 only two dye substances could be detectedby thin layer chromatography: Naphtol yellow and Sudan red G.The recent ISO issue (ISO 2003) does not determine these substancesbut the existence of those substances is controlled by means of a highpressure liquid chromatography (HPLC). The detected artificial acid dyesubstances are as follows: cynoline yellow, S – napthol yellow, amaranth,A – cochineal red, azorubine, orange II, erythrocine and rocceline. Thesecond part of the ISO describes the method for microscopic analysis.A4.3.1. Thin layer chromatography (TLC)The thin layer chromatographic method allows the detection of artificialwater-soluble dye acid substances. It applies to saffron threads aswell as to saffron powder. The detected dye substances are as follows:cynoline yellow, S – napthol yellow, tartrazine, amaranth, A – cochinealred, azorubine, orange II, erythrocine and rocceline. According to ISO3632-2 2003 the detection method is as follows: the sample is placedin centrifugal tube where 10 ml of water are added at a temperature of600C. After 10 to 12 minutes the sample is agitated and is subjectedto a centrifugal treatment. Afterwards, 250 ml of formic acid are added.The sample is then placed in Solid phase extraction tube with polyamid6 as a filling material. The sample is washed successively with water,methanol, acetone until the dissolvent comes colorless out of the column.After washing with water, the pH value should be controlled andmust found neutral. The dye substances are separated from the columnwith 5 ml of methanol / ammonium solution at 25 % (95/5) and placedin a bottle. The dissolvent is evaporated at room temperature in a rotatingevaporator. The remaining is dissolved in 500 μl of methanol.For the chromatographic analysis we use a reference sample thatconsists of methanol solution of the dye substances that will be usedin a concentration of1 g/l. Two mixtures are used as a separating dissolvent:the first is prepared by dissolving 2 g of trisodium citrate in 80161

ml of water and adding 20 ml of ammonia at 30%. The second dissolventis prepared by dissolving 0,4 g of potassium chloride in 50 ml of tertiarybutanol, 12 ml of propionate acid and 38 ml of water. We place 10μl of the sample extract and 10 μl of the reference solution on celluloseplates. We let them develop for approximately 45 minutes with the dissolvent1 and almost 8 hours with the dissolvent 2.Possible existing dye substances are detected by comparing the Rf of thedye substances of the witnessing solution to those of the sample extract.A4.3.2. High pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC)Since revision of the ISO 3632:1993 has begun, the efforts were focusedon creating a method that would make the detection of artificialwater-soluble acid dye substances possible. During the entire time, therewere differences between the Spanish and French standardization organizationsregarding the issue of extraction and chromatography. Theactual ISO regarding saffron contains a Technical Specification equivalent,given the fact that no agreement was ever achieved regarding theabove method, during the ISO TC34/SC7 committee meeting in Toledo(Spain) in 2002. Recently, during a second meeting that took place inthe city of Kalocsa (Hungary) between September and October 2005,an agreement was reached between Spain, France and Iran regardingthe consensus of a HPLC method based on the initial Spanish propositioncombined with an adaptation of the initial French proposition. Themethod was recently approved by the ISO authorities and the comparativeprocedure has already begun by a Spanish laboratory.The above two methods are set out here. The first applies as technicalspecification ISO/TS 3632:2003 while the second will be includedin the new ISO3632 publication.A4.3.2.1. Valid technique ISO/TS 3632:2003According to ISO 3632-2 2003, high pressure liquid chromatographyenables a quantitative as well as qualitative detection of artificialwater-soluble acid dye substances. The dye substances identified are:cynoline yellow, S – naphtol yellow, tartrazine, amaranth, A – cochinealred, azorubine, orange II, erythrocine and rocceline. The detection procedureis as follows: we place a 500 mg of sample in a centrifugation tubeand add 10 ml of water at 60 o C. The solution rests for 10 to 12 minutes.Agitation and centrifugation follows. Afterwards we add 250 μl of formicacid or 2 μl of acetic acid. The sample is then placed in a solid phase extraction(SPE) tube with polyamide 6 as a filling material. The sample iswashed successively with water, methanol, acetone until the dissolventcomes colorless out of the column. After washing with water, the pH value162

should be controlled and should be found neutral. The dye substancesare separated from the column with 5 ml of methanol / ammonium solutionat 25 % (95/5) and placed in a bottle. The dissolvent is evaporatedat room temperature in a rotating evaporator. The remaining is dissolvedin 500 μl of methanol. The sample is then analyzed through HPLC andUV-Vis detector of variable wavelength. The type of the chromatographictube is C18. It is 25 cm long and has a diameter of 4 mm. The size ofthe static phase particles is 5 μm and the pore diameter is 100 Å. Theare two separation solvents: the first is a regulative solution A (aqueoussolution with 4,5 pH, containing 0,001 mol/L of tetra-n-butylammoniumhydrogen sulphide and 0,001 mol/L of potassium dihydrogenesulphate)with acetonitrile. The second is a regulative solution B (aqueous solutionwith 4,5 pH, containing 0,0014 mol/L of tetra-n-butylammonium hydrogensulphide and 0,0014 mol/L of potassium dihydrogenesulphate) withacetonitrile. The analysis is carried out in order to detect dye substancesand can take place by two different methods. In the first method, we placea 20 μL of sample in constant elution with the first solvent. In the secondmethod we use also 20 μL of the sample but the elution takes placegradually: 100% of the first solvent for 14 minutes and then 100% of thesecond solvent for 10 more minutes. The quantitative and qualitativedetection of artificial dye substances is possible through HPLC, providedthat the same analysis has taken place with clear artificial dyes in differentconcentrations in order to obtain the reference curves.A4.3.2.2. Soon developed ISO techniqueThe principle of this future method (that has recently been approved) isbased on the extraction of dye substances with warm water and the eliminationof the natural saffron dyes (crocetine esters) through acid treatmentand successive washings. The dyes are separated and isolated throughchromatography in a polyamide microtube. The identification takes placethrough HPLC in reverse phase through diode array detector. Apart fromthe dye substances described by the ISO/TS 3632:2003 a few more wereincluded: naphtanol yellow, 2G red, 2G yellow and melted red.Dye substances extraction:500 mg of saffron powder are placed in centrifugal tube. We add25 ml of water at 60oC and stir by hand for 1 minute. All particles ifthe saffron powder should swim in the water. We leave the solution torest for 10 minutes, unexposed to light and then stir again vividly. Thetube is centrifuged at 4000 rounds per minute for 10 minutes and thesupernatant is placed in a sediment glass container using a Pasteurdropper. We add 500 μl of formic acid at 98% or 2,5 ml of cold aceticacid in order to raise the pH at about 2.163

In case of interferences at the final chromatogram due to high crotecineesters concentration, an alternative centrifugal procedure is possibleas suggested by Spain. Upon completion of the centrifugation as describedabove, the supernate liquid is placed in a sediment glass whereacid sulphate at 98% is added in order to reach a pH value of 1 pH. Theremaining solution is heated at 100oC for about 30 minutes (in waterbath) and then placed in a centrifugal tube for one more centrifugationat 4000 rounds per minute for 5 minutes. The supernatant is placed ina different sediment glass in order to raise its pH value to 2pH with thehelp of 40% of sodium hydroxide. The solution is centrifuged again at4000 rounds per minute for 5 more minutes.Separation of the dye substancesAt this phase, we use solid polyamide extraction cartridges (SPE).The cartridges are filled with 10 ml of water. The saffron extract, describedabove, passes through the cartridge. The cartridge is washedmany times with 45 ml of methanol, 45 ml of acetone and again with45 ml of methanol treated with 500 μl of formic acid in constant flowof 6 to 8 ml/minute. In case of applying the alternative centrifugationprocedure based on acetification and transformation of the extract intoa base, the reagent could be 10 ml instead of 45 ml.The dye substances are separated from the polyamide column with10 ml of methanol/ammonium solution (95/5) directly into a roundcontainer that is connected to a rotary evaporator, where the solvent isremoved in vacuum temperature less than 40oC. The residue is dilutedagain in 300 ml of water. It is then filtered with a polytetrafluoroethylene(PTFE) filter with a 45 μm pore diameter. 50 μl are injected into thechromatography apparatus.Chromatographic conditions:Column: C18, length: 150 mm, inner diameter 4,6 mm, particlesize: 3 μmMoving phase flow: 0,8 ml/minuteColumn temperature: 30 o CSolvents:Phase A: 900 ml of water are added to 1,36 g of acid phosphoric bipotash.Using potash hydroxide 1M we raise the pH value to 7pH andfill the solution with 1 lit of water up to the mark.Phase B: methanol (HPLC quality)Phase C: acetonitrile (HPLC quality)164

Phase Duration (min) Phase A Phase B Phase CEquilibrium 10 90 10 01 0 90 10 02 7 48 52 03 10 48 52 04 14 0 60 405 24 0 60 406 25 90 10 0Table 11. SeparationdevelopmentThe possible artificial dye substances existing in the solution areidentified by comparing the absorption time and the UV-Vis spectrumsbetween 300 and 700 nm with those of the dissolution pattern.The results are described in one decimal mg / kg. Results describedas “present” or “absent” with no limiting detection indication or amountare not acceptable.A4.3.3. Fat-soluble artificial dye substances detection (HPLC)Apart from the ISO/TS 3632 HPLC method applied in Spain, anotherone is also used, allowing the determination of a number of fat-solubleartificial dye substances that belong to the Sudan red family (Sudan I,Sudan II, Sudan III, Sudan IV, 7B Sudan red and Sudan G). They arelargely used for coloring plastics and other synthetic substances. Theyare not indicated for consumption because their “azo-” groups mayeasily transform to carcinogenic amines. In 2003, some of the abovesubstances were detected in a number of food products that containedchili powder. For this reason, the European community is alerted tothe possibility of adding these substances to various spices. The alertexpanded in 2004 on the substances Sudan II, III and IV.The procedure consists in extracting dye substances through acetonitrilefor further chromatographic analysis through HPLC (in reversephase columns and diode array detector). The extraction takes placeafter adding 25 ml of acetonitrile to 500 mg of saffron. The mixture isagitated for 1 minute in a Polytron homogenization apparatus and isfiltered initially through a paper filter and afterwards through polytetraflouroethylene(PTFE) filter with a 0,45 μm pore diameter. The extract isinjected into the HPLC apparatus, which is modified as follows:- Column: C18, length: 250 mm, inner diameter: 4 mm and particlesize: 5 μm.165

- Injection volume: 50 ml- Moving phase flow: 0,7 ml/minuteSolvents:- Phase A: acetified water HPLC (165 ml of acetic acid in 1000 mlof water)- Phase B: acetonitrile (HPLC quality)Prior the chromatographic analysis, the column is prepared with 5ml of acetonitrile / water (50 / 50) and 5 ml of water of HPLC quality,with 0,5 ml/minute flow.Phase Duration (min) Phase A Phase BEquilibrium 30 701 0 30 702 30 5 953 40 0 1004 52 0 100Table 12. SeparationdevelopmentThe possible artificial dye substances contained in the sampleare identified by comparing the absorption time and the UV-Visspectrums between 300 and 700 nm with those of the dissolutionpattern.166

Picture 7. Chromatogram at 432 nm for a multipattern solution of 4 mg/l. The separation sequenceis Red Sudan G, Sudan I, Sudan II, Sudan III, RedSudan 7B and Sudan IVA4.3.4. Microscopic analysisThis method is applied on saffron threads or saffron powder in orderto determine whether the sample consists solemnly of Crocus sativusL. stigmas or if other flower residue and foreign material are alsopresent.The preparations for microscopic analysis are performed accordingto ISO 3632, section 6. The elements that should be found in order toverify the sole existence of Crocus sativus L. stigmas are as follows:• Upper end stigma residue with epitheliums• Epidermal stigma residue• Epidermal column residue• Pollen granules with a 80 – 100 μm diameter• Transport container debris• Stamens residue• Starch granules• Inorganic material• Foreign material cellular residue• Cells with content that remains colored167

A4.4 PESTICIDE RESIDUESThe European Union does not provide a single limit for pesticidecontent in spices.Frequent controls of Greek saffron have never demonstrated theexistence of organic-phosphoric, nitrogen or halogen pesticide waste.In Spain, nowadays, the legal framework is the Royal Decree280/1994, which transposed three European Community directives tothe national law (directive 76/895 EC, directive 86/362 EEC, directive90/642 EEC). A modification by the Royal Decree 198/2000 followedin order to include the amendments deriving from the applied directive97/41 EC. Thus, Spain provides maximum residue limits (MLR) for 430pesticides applied on spices, according to the unified law of April 2005.The methodology applied is as follows: pesticide residues are extractedfrom a round bottle containing 100 ml of acetone/dichloromethane solution50/50 (v/v) through soaking for 12 hours. The extract received isfiltered with anhydrous sodium sulphate for absorption of the humidity.The anhydrous sodium sulphate is washed with 25 ml of acetone/dichloromethane and the infiltrate is dried in a rotating evaporator at avacuum temperature of 40 o C. The remaining is dissolved then again in 5ml of cyclohexane. The sample injection is performed with a high volumeinjector equipped with CarboFit. The amount used is 10 μl. The conditionsdefined for the injector and the chamber, as well as the columnfeatures are shown in the tables 13, 14 and 15 respectively.Temperature ( o C) Program Ta ( o C/minute) Time (minutes)70 0 0.50300 100 10.00Table 13. Injector conditionsTemperature ( o C) Program Ta ( o C/minute) Time (minutes)70 0 3.50180 25.0 10.00300 4 10.00Table 14. Chamber temperature program168

Seasonal phaseLengthInner diameterOuter diameterFiller thicknessCP-Sil 8 CB Low Bleed / MS30 m0,25 mm0,39 mm0,25 mmTable 15. Capillary column featuresA selective mass spectrophotometer detector is used (with an iondump that operates by electron impaction or chemical ionization) forpesticide detection, identification and quantitative analysis. The pesticidesare identified according to their absorption time and separationspectrum MS/MS which is unique for each analysis.A4.5 MICROBIOLOGICAL ANALYSISNo specifications regarding microbiological load are included in theISO/TS 3632:2003.The microbiological methods applied on the Greek saffron for microbiologicalload detection (aerobic MC/30 o C), yeast/mould and coliformorganisms (Eschericia coli) are those specified by ISO 4833, ISO 7954and ISO 16649-2 respectively.In Sardinia, the saffron samples were microbiologically analyzed in30, 60 and 90 days after sampling in order to see if a bacterial infectionoccurs during storage. A gram from each sample was homogenized.The suspension was subjected to decimal dilutions and 100 ul of eachsample of the various dilutions was inoculated in agar ROSE Bengalaplates (an isolation terrain for yeasts and moulds) and in PCA (PlanteCounte Agar) plates (microorganisms total tallying terrain).The Spanish law refers to the Technical Health Regulation regardingtreatment, distribution and marketing of spices due to absence ofa specified standard especially for saffron. According to the TechnicalHealth Regulation (RTS, mentioned before in section 5.1.3), the spicesshould not contain pathogenic microorganisms nor their toxins. Following,the highest admissible limits are: Escherichia coli (1 x 101 col/g),salmonella (absence in 25 g), and anaerobic spores (1 x 103 col/g). Forinoculation, cultivation and tallying of the microorganisms mentionedin the RTS, it is necessary to prepare a common sample that will besubjected to special procedures for each case. In order to receive mother169

liquor, 25 g of saffron in sterilized condition should be weighed in Stomacherbag and 225 ml of peptone regulative solution should be added.The preparation is placed in the Stomacher bag for 1 minute in orderto be homogenized. We receive then mother liquor in a relation of 10-1(1:10). Further on, we take 1 ml of mother liquor in a sterilized pipetteand dilute it up to 10 ml in peptone regulative solution. We homogenizeby receiving a decimal solution of 10-2 (1:100).Escherichia coli tallyingEscherichia coli determination takes place by tallying the concentrationsdeveloped on a cultivation plate (dry matter) where a knownsample amount has been inoculated at a determined amount of timeand at incubation temperature (44,5oC for 24 hours).The testing method is as follows: we dissolve the cultivation mediumTergitol B.C.I.G. in a warm water bath. We cool it at 45oC andkeep this temperature constant. We take 1 ml of each solution that hasbeen already prepared (10-1, 10-2) and place it in different Petri plates.We stir lightly with circular moves in order to homogenize the sample.We leave the sample to solidify at room temperature and let each plateincubate on reverse position at 44,5 o C for 24 hours. This procedure isapplied twice. After 24 hours we count all blue colored concentrationsthat have been developed on the plates.Sulfite reducing clostridia tallyingThis determination takes place by tallying the concentrations developedin a tube that contains an adequate cultivation medium andspecified sample amount. The procedure is applied after the sample hasremained for a certain amount of time at specified temperature and inanaerobic conditions.The testing procedure is as follows: we take 4 tubes of cultivationmedium agar - agar SPS and dissolve it completely in warm water bath,lowering the temperature to 45oC (the solutions remain at this constanttemperature until use). After homogenization of solutions 10-1 and 10-2 we take a sample fraction of about 5 ml with a sterilized pipette andplace it in sterilized flame proof glass tubes. We heat the tubes in a waterbath at 80-85 o C for 5 minutes. We inoculate the sample in every agaragarSPS tube (1 ml of the 1:10 solution and 1 ml of the 1:100 solution)and homogenize the solution. We cover the tube surface with sterilizedVaseline and leave it to solidify at room temperature. The tubes areincubated at 46 o C for 48 hours in anaerobic conditions. After 48 hourswe count all black concentrations developed in the tubes.The amount of sulfite reducing clostridia contained in 1 g sampleis calculated by multiplying the concentrations developed with solutionmedium applied in each case.170

Salmonella identificationThe method is based on determining the existence or absence ofSalmonella after an enrichment procedure, immune concentration, isolationand biochemical and serological identification.In short, the testing procedure has following stages: we weigh 25 gof sterilized sample and add 225 ml of peptone regulative solution. Weplace the prepared sample in a Stomacher bag in order to homogenizefor 1 minute. We incubate at 37 o C for 16-24 hours. Afterwards, immuneconcentration is produced in a mini VIDAS appliance with I.C.Salmonella Biomerieux cartridges. We receive the immune concentrationinoculum from sterilized hyssop and inoculate in lines on the isolatedagar-agar Hecktoen and SM ID. The plates are incubated at 37oC for24 hours.The red color agar-agar SM ID concentrations as well as the bluegreenor those with no black center agar-agar Hecktoen are consideredto be suspect. In case of existing concentrations with the above featuresit is necessary to proceed with a biochemical affirmation through API-20E testing.171


Flowers and stigmas (UCLM)

COMMERCIALIZATION ANDCONSUMPTION DEVELOPMENTOF SAFFRONA5.1 GLOBAL ECONOMIC STUDYA5.1.1. PRODUCTION COSTSA5.1.1.1. Direct and variable costsDirect costs are those created byvarious production factors used or destroyedduring the production procedureof one year. The can be classifiedas follows:• External costs: corresponding topayments during production inform of invoices. The farming enterpriseneeds to purchase thoseexternal factors in order to completethe production. Followingsupplies belong to those costs:• Fertilizers• Phytosanitary products againstplagues and diseases• Propagation plant material (bulbs)• Irrigation water (deriving from thewell of the farm paying the invoicefor electricity consumption)• Various raw materials. Plastic nettingsare included in this heterogeneousgroup (used during planting)• Mechanized phytosanitary servicesHarvesting (UCLM)• Calculated costs include all coststhat derive from production factors,which – despite their initial175

external cost – are not consumed in the period of only one productioncycle. Thus, it is necessary to calculate the part of the cost thatcorresponds to partial consumption of production factors.• Labor force: Group of workers, who provide services during theproduction procedure. Those costs could be fixed or variable,depending on the payment system. If the payment depends onactivity volume the costs are variable, in every other case thecosts are fixed.• Tractors, tools and farming equipment. Farming machinery is aproduction element that is partially destroyed during the wholeprocedure. Machinery creates direct or indirect costs due towear-out. Thus, the cost of their use is considered as a farmingproduction cost.A5.1.1.2. Gross incomeThe gross income of a production includes all main product sellingrevenues as well as those revenues from secondary products or by-productsof the same production.The calculation of the prices for main products as well as for byproductsis based on a market analysis.A5.1.1.3. Gross profit marginAccording to decision 85/377, June the 7th 1985 of the EEC Committee,which establishes a gross profit margin typology for agriculturalholdings, following criteria should be taken into consideration:• Gross profit of a agricultural holding is the gross production valueminus all special allocated expenses.• Gross production value equals to the aggregation of the main productvalue added to the value of the secondary product.The direct expenses that must be deducted from the gross incomein order to calculate the gross profit are mentioned in section tables demonstrate production costs, revenues and grossprofit for five years, starting from bulb planting in Greece, Spain andItaly.176

Cultivation activitiesSoil preparation (scraping)Date Amount Unit Value Sum (€)JulyPlowing discs 1 Field treatment 42 42Cultivator 2 Field treatment 27 54In depth fertilizingJulyFertilizing 20 Tons 18 361Harrowing 1 Field treatment 33 33PlantingSeptemberBulb crushing roll 1 Field treatment 7 7Bulb-planting application 1 Field treatment 150 150Girfil sieve 120-96-R4-2128 12.500 ml 0,025 313Bulbs 6.000 kg 2,1 12.621HarvestOctoberFlower harvesting 2,6 kg 385 1.000Pruning 2,6 kg 314 815Drying 2,6 kg 12 31Total cultivation activities 15.428REVENUESSaffron (10% humidity) 2,6 kg 1036 2.694REVENUE SUM 2.694OverviewCosts 15.428Revenues 2.694Gross Profit - 12.733Table 16. Production costs, revenues and gross profit for the year 0in Spain177

Cultivation activitiesSoil preparation (scraping)Date Amount Unit Value Sum (€)SeptemberHarrowing 1 Soil treatment 9 9Surface fertilizingDecemberSuspension 4 – 16 – 10 0,4 Ton 174 70Weed controlDecemberPhytosanitary distribution 1 Application 7 7Pentimethalene 33% (StompLE)5,0 Liter 12 60IrrigationFebruary– AprilWater 1500 m 3 0 81Weed controlJunePhytosaniotary distribution 1 Application 7 7Pentimethalene 33% (StompLE)5,0 Liter 12 60HarvestOctoberFlower harvesting 13 kg 385 5.000Pruning 13 kg 314 4.076Drying 13 kg 12 156Total cultivation activities 9.526REVENUESSaffron (10% humidity) 13 kg 1036 13.471TOTAL REVENUES 13.471OverviewCosts 9.526Revenues 13.471Gross Profit 3.945Table 17. Production costs, revenues and gross profit forthe years 1 and 2 in Spain178

Cultivation activitiesSoil preparation (scraping)Date Amount Unit Value Sum (€)SeptemberHarrowing 1 Soil treatment 9 9Surface fertilizingDecemberSuspension 4 – 16 – 10 0,4 Ton 174 70Weed controlDecemberPhytosaniotary distribution 1 Application 7 7Pentimethalene 33% (StompLE)5,0 Liter 12 60IrrigationFebruary– AprilWater 1500 m 3 0 81Weed controlJunePhytosaniotary distribution 1 Application 7 7Pentimethalene 33% (StompLE)5,0 Liter 12 60HarvestOctoberFlower harvesting 13 kg 385 3.770Pruning 13 kg 314 3.073Drying 13 kg 12 118Total cultivation activities 7.254REVENUESSaffron (10% humidity) 9,8 kg 1036 10.155TOTAL REVENUES 10.155OverviewCosts 7.254Revenues 10.155Gross Profit 2.901Table 18. Production costs, revenues and gross profit forthe year 3 in Spain179

Cultivation activitiesSoil preparation (scraping)Date Amount Unit Value Sum (€)SeptemberHarrowing 1 Soil treatment 9 9Surface fertilizingDecemberSuspension 4 – 16 – 10 0,4 Ton 174 70Weed controlDecemberPhytosanitary distribution 1 Application 7 7Pentimethalene 33% (StompLE)5,0 Liter 12 60IrrigationFebruary– AprilWater 1500 m 3 0 81Weed controlJunePhytosanitary distribution 1 Application 7 7Pentimethalene 33% (StompLE)5,0 Liter 12 60HarvestOctoberFlower harvesting 6,5 kg 385 2.500Pruning 6,5 kg 314 2.038Drying 6,5 kg 12 78Total cultivation activities 4.910REVENUESSaffron (10% humidity) 6,5 kg 1036 6.735TOTAL REVENUES 6.735OverviewCosts 4.910Revenues 6.735Gross Profit 1.826Table 19. Production costs, revenues and gross profit forthe year 4 in Spain180

Cultivation activitiesSurface fertilizingDate Amount Unit Value Sum (€)DecemberSuspension 4 – 16 – 10 0,4 Ton 174 70Weed controlDecemberPhytosanitary distribution 1 Application 7 7Pentimethalene 33% (StompLE)5,0 Liter 12 60IrrigationFebruary– AprilWater 1500 m 3 0 81Weed controlJunePhytosanitary distribution 1 Application 7 7Pentimethalene 33% (StompLE)5,0 Liter 12 60Bulb harvestingOctoberIn depth plowing 8 hours 27 216Plough driver 24 hours 11 260Total cultivation activities 760REVENUESBulb collection(no separation)10.000 kg 1 12.020TOTAL REVENUES 12.020OverviewCosts 760Revenues 12.020Gross Profit 11.260Table 20. Production costs, revenues and gross profit for the year 5 inSpain181

Cultivation activitiesSoil preparation (scraping)Date Amount Unit Value Sum (€)JulyPlowing discs 1 Field treatment 35 35Cultivator 2 Field treatment 22 45In depth fertilizingJulyFertilizing 20 Tons 15 229Harrowing 1 Field treatment 27 27PlantingSeptemberBulb crushing roll 1 Field treatment 6 6Bulb-planting application 1 Field treatment 125 125Girfil sieve 120-96-R4-2128 12.500 ml 0,025 313Bulbs 5.500 kg 1,17 9.383HarvestOctoberFlower harvesting 1 kg 325 325Pruning 1 kg 260 260Drying 1 kg 10 10Total cultivation activities 10.827REVENUESSaffron (10% humidity) 1 kg 665 665TOTAL REVENUE 665OverviewCosts 10.827Revenues 665Gross Profit - 10.162Table 21. Production costs, revenues and gross profit forthe year 0 in Greece182

Cultivation activitiesSoil preparation (scraping)Date Amount Unit Value Sum (€)SeptemberHarrowing 1 Soil treatment 9 9Surface fertilizingDecemberSuspension 4 – 16 – 10 0,4 Ton 174 70Weed controlDecemberPhytosanitary distribution 1 Application 7 7Pentimethalene 33% (Stomp LE) 5,0 Liter 12 60FebruaryIrrigation– AprilWater 1500 m 3 0 81Weed controlJunePhytosanitary distribution 1 Application 7 7Pentimethalene 33% (Stomp LE) 5,0 Liter 12 60HarvestOctoberFlower harvesting 9 kg 325 2.925Pruning 9 kg 260 2.340Drying 9 kg 10 90Total cultivation activities 5.648REVENUESSaffron (10% humidity) 9 kg 665 5.985TOTAL REVENUES 5.985OverviewCosts 5.648Revenues 5.985Gross Profit 337Table 22. Production costs, revenues and gross profit forthe years 1 and 2 in Greece183

Cultivation activitiesSoil preparation (scraping)Date Amount Unit Value Sum (€)SeptemberHarrowing 1 Soil treatment 9 9Surface fertilizingDecemberSuspension 4 – 16 – 10 0,4 Ton 174 70Weed controlDecemberPhytosanitary distribution 1 Application 7 7Pentimethalene 33%(Stomp LE)5,0 Liter 12 60IrrigationFebruary– AprilWater 1500 m 3 0 81Weed controlJunePhytosanitary distribution 1 Application 7 7Pentimethalene 33% (StompLE)5,0 Liter 12 60HarvestOctoberFlower harvesting 11 kg 325 3.575Pruning 11 kg 260 2.860Drying 11 kg 10 110Total cultivation activities 6.838REVENUESSaffron (10% humidity) 11 kg 665 7.315TOTAL REVENUES 7.315OverviewCosts 6.838Revenues 7.315Gross Profit 477Table 23. Production costs, revenues and gross profit for the years 3in Greece184

Cultivation activitiesSoil preparation (scraping)Date Amount Unit Value Sum (€)SeptemberHarrowing 1 Soil treatment 9 9Surface fertilizingDecemberSuspension 4 – 16 – 10 0,4 Ton 174 70Weed controlDecemberPhytosanitary distribution 1 Application 7 7Pentimethalene 33% (Stomp LE) 5,0 Liter 12 60FebruaryIrrigation– AprilWater 1500 m 3 0 81Weed controlJunePhytosanitary distribution 1 Application 7 7Pentimethalene 33% (Stomp LE) 5,0 Liter 12 60HarvestOctoberFlower harvesting 5 kg 325 1.625Pruning 5 kg 260 1.300Drying 5 kg 10 50Total cultivation activities 3.268REVENUESSaffron (10% humidity) 5 kg 665 3.325TOTAL REVENUES 3.325OverviewCosts 3.268Revenues 3.325Gross Profit 57Table 24. Production costs, revenues and gross profit for the year 4in Greece185

Cultivation activitiesSurface fertilizingDate Amount Unit Value Sum (€)DecemberSuspension 4 – 16 – 10 0,4 Ton 174 70Weed controlDecemberPhytosanitary distribution 1 Application 7 7Pentimethalene 33% (StompLE)5,0 Liter 12 60IrrigationFebruary– AprilWater 1500 m 3 0 81Weed controlJunePhytosanitary distribution 1 Application 7 7Pentimethalene 33% (StompLE)5,0 Liter 12 60Bulb harvestingOctoberIn depth plowing 8 hours 27 216Plough driver 24 hours 11 260Total cultivation activities 760REVENUESBulb gathering (no selection) 10.000 kg 1 12.020TOTAL REVENUES 12.020OverviewCosts 760Revenues 12.020Gross Profit 11.260Table 25. Production costs, revenues and gross profit for the year 5in Greece186

Cultivation activitiesDate Amount Unit Value Sum (€)Soil preparationSpringSummerFertilizing October 3 Field treatment 10 30Fertilizing October 2 Tons 150 300AugustPreliminary plowingsSeptember 2,5 Field treatment 10 25AugustMillingSeptember 1 Field treatment 10 10AugustPlanting rowsSeptember 2,4 Field treatment 10 24AugustPlantingSeptemberBulbs 120 kg 13 6000Manual planting 30 Field treatment 10 300HarvestNovemberFlower harvesting 20 Manual labor 10 300Pruning and drying 105 Manual labor 10 1.050Total cultivation activities 8039REVENUESSaffron (10% humidity) 0,5 kg 4.000 2.000TOTAL REVENUE 2.000OverviewCosts 8039Revenues 2.000Gross Profit - 6039Table 26. Production costs, revenues and gross profit for the year 1in Sardinia(1000m2 50-55 bulbs/m2)187

Cultivation activitiesWeed controlSurface grubbing and millingHarvestDate Amount Unit Value Sum (€)OctoberNovemberMarchNovember27 Field treatment 10 270Flower harvesting 75 Manual labor 10 750Pruning and drying 200 Manual labor 10 2.000Total cultivation activities 3.020REVENUESSaffron (10% humidity) 1 kg 4.000 4.000TOTAL REVENUE 4.000OverviewCosts 3.020Revenues 4.000Gross Profit 980Table 27. Production costs, revenues and gross profit for the year 2 inSardinia (1000m2 50-55 bulbs/m2)188

Cultivation activitiesWeed controlSurface grubbing and millingHarvestDate Amount Unit Value Sum (€)OctoberNovemberMarch27 Field treatment 10 270Flower harvesting November 110 Manual labor 10 1.100Pruning and drying November 250 Manual labor 10 2.500Total cultivation activities 3.870REVENUESSaffron (10% humidity) 1,5 kg 4.000 6.000TOTAL REVENUE 6.000OverviewCosts 3.870Revenues 6.000Gross Profit 2.130Table 28. Production costs, revenues and gross profit for the year 3 inSardinia (1000m2 50-55 bulbs/m2)189

Cultivation activitiesWeed controlSurface grubbing and millingHarvestDate Amount Unit Value Sum (€)OctoberNovemberMarch27 Field treatment 10 270Flower harvesting November 75 Manual labor 10 750Pruning and drying November 200 Manual labor 10 2.000Bulb grubbingMay / June35 10 350Total cultivation activities 3.370REVENUESBulbs 400 13 5.200Saffron (10% humidity) 1 kg 4.000 4.000TOTAL REVENUE 9.200OverviewCosts 3.370Revenues 9.200Gross Profit 5.830Table 29. Production costs, revenues and gross profit for the year 4 inSardinia (1000m2 50-55 bulbs/m2)190

A5.1.1.4. Technical - economical indexesFollowing, a production analysis is presented according to the threemost important parameters: cultivation activities, raw material andlabor force. Three technical/ economical indexes have been determined:• Total expenses/ production costs (%): it represents the cost (in percentage)of the three analyzed parameters (cultivation activities, rawmaterial and labor force) in relation to the total production cost.• Main product equivalent / kg (%): it represents the amount (saffronin kg) produced by the costs created for each parameter (cultivationactivities, raw material and labor force).• Total expenses/ revenues (%): it represents the cost (in percentage)of the three analyzed parameters (cultivation activities, raw materialand labor force) in relation to total revenue.Italy Spain GreeceExpenses vs. total production costs (%) 100% 100% 100%Cultivation activities 11% 1% 2%Raw material 13% 31% 34%Labor force 75% 68% 64%Main product equivalent 3,5 45,7 49,6Cultivation activities 0,4 0,6 0,8Raw material 0,5 14,1 17,1Labor force 2,6 31,0 31,7Expenses vs. total revenue (%) 60% 81% 72%Cultivation activities 7% 1% 1%Raw material 8% 25% 25%Labor force 45% 55% 46%Table 30 Technical /economical indexes191

A5.1.2 FEASIBILITY STUDYDynamic inversion analysisFollowing, we demonstrate the most characteristic parameters ofthe above mentioned indicators. These indicators refer to the cash flowof cultivation during its utilized period. Following concepts are used asdynamic selection methods:• Internal profitability percentage (IPP)• Current net value (CNV)• Recovery time• Current value percentage or profit / return percentageThe current net value is calculated according to following formula:VAN= VA− A = −A+nii= 1 1+∑Qi( k)Where:• VAN : actual net value• VA: actual cash flow value• A: return value• Qi: year i cash flow• k: capitalization percentageFurther on, we calculate the value k, which nullifies the CNV andgives the IPP percentage, defining the recovery time (return payment retrievalperiod).In table 5 we can see the indexes resulting from the dynamic inversionanalysis.192

Italy Spain GreeceAverage gross profit (€ / hec. and year) 2.009 1.707 82Actual net value 8.036 8.534 577Internal profitability percentage (IPP) 121% 21% 4%Recovery time (years) 4 4 6Table 31. Indexes resulting from the DynamicInversion AnalysisA5.1.3. COMMERCIALIZATION COSTSA5.1.3.1 PurchaseGraphique 8. Opérations qui composent le processusde commercialisationIt is common for saffron traders to purchase the product in the villagesand at the premises of the producers, directly or through intermediates,who receive a commission.Sometimes it is the cultivator who visits the trader in order to sellhis product.In the case of Greek cultivators, the law requires that they sell theirproduct directly to the cooperative.193

A5.1.3.2ClassificationThe purchased lots are classified according to quality, age etc.A5.1.3.3StorageTraditionally, saffron is stored in a dry and dark place. Sometimessaffron is stored in refrigerators, at 4oC in order to preserve its featuresfor a longer period of time, but this method is hardly used. No directcosts are suggested.A5.1.3.4CleaningIt refers to the procedure for removing foreign material such asflower residues, esparto, perianth etc.In Greece the above procedure is carried out before selling by thesame cultivator.After cleaning, it is necessary to wet the product, in so as to be lessfragile. Nevertheless, we register loss of 0,5% due to stigma rupture ofsaffron threads.A5.1.3.5PackagingThe packaging procedure includes tasks such as filling the variouscontainers, weighing, etiquette attachment and packaging.Main package is the package containing saffron threads. Secondaryand tertiary packages contain the main package that is in direct contactwith the product.Depending on the customer demands, the product can be packedalso in blister packaging.A5.1.3.6ShipmentIt refers to the shipment of goods.Further on, additional costs areinvolved such as:1) AnalysesIt is common to carry out analyses that are more or less precisedepending on the destination market.Microbiological analysis: aims at detecting the existence of bacteriasuch as Salmonella so., Escherichia coli, etc.a) Chemical analysis: for artificial dye substances detection as wellas existence of crocine, picrocrocine and safranal.b)Pesticide analysis: for pesticide, insecticide, fungicide residue detection.194

c) Radioactivity2) Taxes and other expensesAll expenses included herein refer to local or international authoritiescertificates as well as direct taxes to the Saffron Designation ofOrigin Regulatory Council.Following table demonstrates minimum and maximal costs for eachstage of the commercialization procedure in Spain, Italy and Greece.SPAIN ITALY GREECEMin Max Min Max Min MaxPurchase 0,00 13,22 - - - -Classification 3,01 3,01 0,00 0,00 2,50 2,50Cleaning 9,02 18,03 0,00 0,00 7,50 15,00Main package 84,14 300,51 140,00 140,00 54,88 219,52Secondary package 25,04 25,04 400,00 600,00 20,75 20,75Tertiary package 0,83 1,60 50,00 50,00 0,68 1,33Shipment 18,03 18,03 110,00 140,00 18,03 18,03Analyses 6,41 8,01 65,00 65,00 5,30 6,65Taxes and certificates 1,20 1,80 80,00 80,00 1,20 1,80Contribution DO 0,00 60,10 0,00 0,00 0,00 50,00Total 147,68 449,36 845,00 1.075,00 110,84 335,58Table 32 Commercialization costs in Spain, Italyand GreeceA5.2 COMMERCIALIZATION AND CONSUMPTIONIn Greece, national saffron sales represent approximately 13,2 % ofthe total production while export sales represent approximately 86,8 %of the total production.In Sardinia, the reference markets are mainly local and regional(80%). Only a small part (20%) is destined for the national and internationalmarket. Sardinian saffron is found only in special shops and isnot commercialized at a large extent.5.2.1 FORMS OF CONSUMPTIONIn the Spanish market, saffron can be found in three forms: asthreads, as powder or as spice for rice, pastry etc. In the consumptionanalysis carried out by the IRI research company, the first two categorieswere not taken into account.195

Following graphic demonstrates that in Spain saffron threads areat first rank, followed by saffron powder. Due to the high price of saffron,the consumer prefers to verify quality through saffron threads.There are also other factors contributing to the preference for saffronthreads. For instance, housewives have a unique knowledge on howto obtain the maximum organoleptic qualities from saffron. Followingtable demonstrates clearly a preference in saffron threads compared tosaffron powder.Table 33 shows total and partial consumption of saffron in Spain(in filaments/powder).Year 2003 2004 2005Total 4.351 4.433 3.338Threads 3.051 3.086 2.383Powder 1.300 1.347 955Table 33 total and partial consumption in Spain(kg)In Sardinia, saffron is used mainly as powder. Nevertheless, duringlast years, restaurant owners started using saffron threads for mealpreparation.196

A5.2.2REGIONAL CONSUMPTIONInformation referring to saffron quantities consumed in the variousregions of Spain. The studied regions are as follows:Graph. 9. Localization of production zonesGraph. 10 Total sales of saffron perregion197

As one can clearly see in the graphic, the zone consuming the most isthe north-western part of Spain i.e. Galicia, Asturias and Leon. This comesas a little surprise, given the fact that saffron is used mostly in Mediterraneandishes such as paella, which is a typical dish of eastern Spain. Thatmeans that the use of saffron is not restricted in rice or pastry.The individual and average percentages of these three years arealways more than 70% in all zones except for zone V, where equality isapparent in consuming both commercial types of saffron. This could beattributed to possible insufficiency in saffron in this zone, which is notrelated to the existing demand. This leads eventually to the conclusionthat the consumers can not distinguish among various commercial typesof saffron. It also shows that the quality of both types (threads, powder)satisfies the demands of the customers in the respected area.In Italy, the zone at issue is Zone 1 (Lombardia, Liguria, Piemonteand Aoste valley), which is characterized by development and is absorbingapproximately 50% of the market sales. The product is present at aconstant rate in the various selling points, except in the region of SouthItaly, where an annual decrease in selling rates is observed: indeed, thisdecrease – rendered in percentage – is due to the number of new sellingpoints in South Italy, which is larger than the one in the rest of Italy.According to the table below, in Greece, the volume of saffron sales inthe city if Athens represents the largest percentage of the total consumptionof saffron sold in the domestic market. In particularly, it reaches59% for the year 2005.Graph 11: Total sales per region in Greece.198

A5.2.3CONSUMPTION DEPENDING ON SALES LOCATIONIn Spain: the data for saffron sales is obtained from supermarketsand hypermarkets that are classified according to their m2 capacity:large-scale stores: from 1001 to 2005 m2, medium-scale stores: 401 to1000 m2 and small-scale stores: 100 to 400 m2 .Following graphic shows total and partial supermarket and hypermarketsales.Graph. 12 Total/partial sales in hypermarkets and supermarketsThe above graphic shows that there is no great difference in total sales forthe three years at issue. Customers preferring the use of saffron in threadspurchase them in supermarkets. This tendency remains constant during thethree years of the research. In particularly, data shows that the customersprefer to purchase the spice in small supermarkets. Thus we assume thatcustomers use hypermarkets for long shopping lists and supermarkets forshort shopping lists. The purchase of saffron belongs to a short shopping list.Another explanation would be that the demand for saffron, given the fact thatit is consumed in small portions, depends on a “short time” decision. Thereforeimmediate purchase can take place at the neighborhood supermarket.In Greece the sales volume in supermarkets showed an increase of68% compared to 2004. Total sales value shows also an increase of 79%for the year 2005 compared to the year before.199

In Italy the total sales value in Super- and Hypermarkets as well asin Free Access Markets has increased at 18.8 million € while in smallermarkets, the sales were increased at 12.8 million €. The market recordsa significant increase during the last year in the sales volume (5,1%)rather than in value (4,4%). It is a positive tendency compared to thegeneral food sector in Italy (+ 1,2%) and to the referring spice / herbs /aromatic plants sector (+ 2,1%). The increase is observed in large storeswith supermarkets as a main sales channel.A5.2.4 SAFFRON PRICE DEPENDING ON AREA AND SALESLOCATIONTable 34 shows the different prices for saffron thread and saffronpowder in Spain at the various geographical zones studied herein. It isobvious that the two extremes in price, i.e. the highest and the lowestprice, are found in the northern part of the country. The lowest priceis found at the north- western area while the highest price is found inthe northern zone V.The research demonstrates that saffron price in Madrid is 0,35 €higher than in Barcelona: saffron threads are more expensive in Madridthan in Barcelona. Nevertheless, the price for saffron powder is the samein both cities. Following table shows total saffron sales in both forms(threads and powder) in hyper- and supermarkets. The information ispresented as in a graphicIn Italy the market suggests an average price that remains constant(1,50 €). We also mention zone 1 that shows a higher average price(+15%) compared to the market average price. We also note a price increaseat 10% for zone 2c. Compared to zone 1 and 2 (Venice and EmiliaRomagna), the regions in central and south Italy show lower prices at25%.200

Zone I – NorthwestYear 2003 2004 2005Total 1,41 1,46 1,50Saffron threads 1,42 1,48 1,52Saffron powder 1,36 1,41 1,41Zone II – EastYear 2003 2004 2005Total 1,38 1,38 1,29Saffron threads 1,43 1,40 1,27Saffron powder 1,24 1,33 1,34Zone III – SouthYear 2003 2004 2005Total 1,37 1,48 1,49Saffron threads 1,38 1,49 1,52Saffron powder 1,32 1,41 1,40Zone IV – CenterYear 2003 2004 2005Total 1,40 1,44 1,52Saffron threads 1,42 1,45 1,55Saffron powder 1,30 1,42 1,43Zone V– NortheastYear 2003 2004 2005Total 1,18 1,29 1,30Saffron threads 1,20 1,29 1,30Saffron powder 1,16 1,29 1,33Zone VI – NorthYear 2003 2004 2005Total 1,72 1,80 1,80Saffron threads 1,73 1,80 1,81Saffron powder 1,65 1,81 1,81Tableau 34. Prix du safran en filaments/poudre parzone géographique201

A5.2.5 A5.2.5 SAFFRON SALES DEPENDING ON BRAND NAME AND LABELSFollowing table shows the percentage sales volume in kg in Spainwith reference to the various saffron brand names.Mass (kg) 2003 2004 2005Carmencita 976 1 147 960Ducros 240 226 184Pote Seco 1 686 1 662 1 092Granja San Francisco 106 42 15Dani 137 105 87Private Label 200 213 141Other brands 1 006 1 038 860Mass (%)Carmencita 22,4 25,9 28,8Ducros 5,5 5,1 5,5Pote Seco 38,7 37,5 32,7Granja San Francisco 2,4 0,9 0,5Dani 3,2 2,4 2,6Private Label 4,6 4,8 4,2Other brands 23,1 23,4 25,7Table 20. Mass percentage in kg of Spanish saffron sales withreference to brand namesGraph 13. Market shares of saffron production or import companiesin Greece for the year 2005202

In Greece the total volume of saffron sold in Greek supermarkets forthe years 2004 and 2005 is 77.505 kg and 130.320 kg respectively. Accordingto the total revenues of the Cooperative, the Greek market sales for theyears 2004 and 2005 are 262.860 kg and 315.196 kg respectively. Thus,the sales of the Cooperative increased at 19,90% regarding volume, and at26,04% regarding value for 2005 compared to 2004. The difference observedbetween the distribution of Greek saffron by the Cooperative and the salesthrough supermarkets (evaluated by the IRI research company) is attributedto the fact that the cooperative supplies also other retailers besidessupermarkets, such as pharmacies etc. During last years, an increase insales has been observed in the Greek market, in which the Cooperative ofKozani participates with more than 90% of direct retail sales.In Italy the market is very centralized: “Bonetti” enterprise, is the leaderin the sector, with a total turnover of more than 50%.Smaller companies follow such as: “Aromatica”, “Cameo” and “Monreale”that assure more than 80% of the sales per turnover. “Aromatica” and“Cameo” have a less developed distribution network than “Bonetti” andoffer lower prices.There are also some regional brand names such as “Zaffermec” in zone2, “Monreale” in zone 3 and “Cannamela” and “Drog & Alim” in zone 4. Inaddition, the company “Marche Private” is holding more than 10% of themarket share in all zones except for zone 1.The loss for “Bonetti” during the last three years is to the advantageof “Monreale” and “Aromatica”, who managed to increase sales by offeringlower prices.A5.2.6 COMMERCIALIZATION OF PRODUCTS PREPARED WITH SAFFRONSPICEApart from the common commercialization forms of saffron (threadsand powder) that are found in all Europe, there are also other commercializationforms:In Spain, tea, sweets and chocolate are prepared with saffron. Saffronis also used for dyeing.In Sardinia, the main products prepared with saffron are fresh pastry,pastes and a kind of liqueur. Sardinian saffron is not always usedfor the preparation of the above products. Saffron is also used as dyeingmaterial, for instance, for coloring the silk belt of the traditional dressof Orgosolo (Orgosolo is a village located in the center of Sardinia). Theuse of saffron as a dye for high quality garments (Haute Couture) couldrepresent a new very profitable market possibility.203

In Greece saffron is used as powder for preparing various products.Saffron is grinded by a special machine and the powder is packed inbags in order to distributed in the market. The use of stigmas or powderfor alcoholic beverages and extracts aims at quality improvement.A5.2.7 POSSIBLE INNOVATIVE COMMERCIALIZATION CHANNELSThe three regions suggest a number of potential innovative commercialization methodssuch as:A) Creation of new products and derivates• Dye substances (by soaking the flower after drying andlyophilize).• Essential oils (perfume)• Taste and aroma)• Medical products and cosmetics (with saffron extract)• Refreshments similar to orgeat (soaking in water andadding sugars and almonds)• Introducing saffron to traditional cheese treatment• Animal food from the leaves, the bulbs and the driedflowers of the plant.• Non alcoholic and alcoholic beverages with saffron.B) New market distribution channels• Sales network development with safer and more attractivepackages• Development of e-commerce• Use of the plant in main parks and public gardens• Use in traditional flower shops during October, Novemberand December• Reconnaissance product facilitation in the market• Developing better market methods for distribution fromthe larger stores as well as from specialized retailerssuch as pharmacies.204


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