0400 GMT January 28, 2020
Mohammadreza Kalami-Bejestani said that Saudi Arabia imported 90 percent of this figure while the other top importers were the UAE, China, Spain and Afghanistan, IRNA reported.
Noting that only these five states are well-acquainted with Iranian saffron, he added, "This means that we still have a lot to do to introduce the Iranian product to other countries."
The five states, particularly Spain and the UAE, are also reexporting Iranian saffron under its own brand names, he said, noting that bulk export is another problem facing saffron trade.
Of the 56.525 tons of saffron exported in the past seven months, 3.235 tons were exported in packages weighing less than 10 grams, 28.308 tons in packages of 10 to 30 grams and 24.978 tons equaling to half of the total exports in packages over 30 grams, he said.
Meanwhile, head of Khorasan Razavi Industries, Mines and Trade Department Razieh Alirezaei said that one of the main problems with saffron export is that Iranian producers and exporters do not know the final consumers.
The province exported 160 tons of saffron last year, with most of it in bulk, she said.
Today, the use of saffron is not limited to foodstuff but it has also found its way into the pharmaceutical industry, she noted.
Of 70,000 hectares under saffron cultivation in the province, 8,000 hectares or 12 percent, are in Torbat-e Heidarieh, located 150 kilometers southwest of the provincial capital Mashhad.
Some 117,000 families are involved in saffron production across the province, Alirezaei said.