‘E’s a fine-boned vegetable with bright yellow skin, and a sweet, nutty scent.’ I have tried some of them, but their flavors go too far. The red variety is fine, and there are a couple of varieties I like: ‘E’s-the-raisin, and ‘E’s-the-pear.'”
He had been to many saffron fields, but in his experience there was only one source of the spice. The fields where the spice was grown had no marketplaces, no market price, no customers, and little or none of the ingredients he needed to prepare the delicacies he enjoyed so much.
The problem was that the spices were so cheap.
“I’m not talking about what someone pays here and there; I’m talking about the prices of what everyone has to spend to get enough food for the country,” said Ruan. “I used to buy five or six kilos of saffron for $1,000. But when they first got out the prices had been dropping, and as more people began to sell at them, they were suddenly getting around 100 rupees for a kilo.”
Ruan said the price of saffron could only fall if enough people kept buying at a time of peak demand. To reach that peak he was going to have to pay more — a lot.
To buy enough for that, he must export the saffron directly to Europe and the U.S., to be sold by the kilogram. But that was risky business. Ruan wasn’t a professional buyer, and he wasn’t particularly comfortable operating in international markets. In short, he was not likely to make much money from it.
Ruan was, however, familiar with an import-export company called Toto, which made saffron-related equipment for traders. And Ruan had a friend, Nai, who worked there and had experience in making exports, especially those of agricultural products, from the United States.
So Ruan contacted the company.
“They said, ‘Well, we’ll get you a supply of two kilos of saffron,’ and sent something like 10 kilos, which I kept,” Ruan said.
So Ruan started selling saffron to Toto. The company asked him to pay them a higher price for the saffron than he’d paid to the other saffron supplier.
“They explained that if I