European Saffron counts on with a high prestige thanks to its excellent quality and the qualificated manners farmers give to the stigmas.
However, in nowadays the evolution of the crop areas dedicated to the saffron in Europe has decreased in advantage of Asian and North African countries. The main causes of this decrease in the production of European saffron are:
1. High labour cost for the picking of saffron flowers and the next processes (saffron stigma removal and dehydration). It's due to the hard work the manual method supposes (there is not mechanisation and the manual method for the flowers picking entails a position which cause back disease, also the other processes are very laborious).
2. Young Rural population leaves country areas in order to move to the nearest cities and this mean that each time there is less people ready to work in the saffron fields.
3. Price: besides the hard work all the process supposes, from the flowers picking to the stigmas dehydration, the price farmers receive is small and it does not allow them to buy new infrastructure, so the cultivation techniques are rudimentary.
4. The adulteration of saffron detected in the latest decades. Saffron has been object of a lot of fraudulent practices: it is mixed with the rest of others plants, animal substances, organic colorants, other saffron plant parts, etc. This factor, the adulteration is the main issue of the current project.
5. Substitution of saffron by other synthetic colorants. It is believed that saffron is expensive, and it is true concerning the absolute value but not regarding the individual consumption quantities. For this reason, consumers choose synthetic colorants (i.e. Tartrazine) obtained from products derived from oil whose safety is unknown yet.