An Iranian baker shows a traditional bread, known locally as “Barbari”, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in Tehran, June 22, 2016. (AFP)

May 22, 2021

In Iran, no day goes by without news about an increase in the price of essential goods. In the latest case, the head of the Bakers’ Association in Karaj Hojjatollah Nasiri acknowledged a 50-percent increase in the bread price on May 15. This price increase had gone into effect several days earlier.

“Given the holy month of Ramadan, the official notification of the new bread price was postponed to the next few days,” Nasiri said.

“Amid the chaos of candidates’ registration, [President Hassan] Rouhani increased the bread price,” the semiofficial ISNA news agency reported of the same day.

In recent days, the condition of two mainly edible goods, sugar and bread, has become tense in Iran’s markets. Sugar has become scarce, and the bread price has increased once again.

On May 16, Etemad Online website reported the price of sugar and edible oil has increased by 72 and 35 percent, respectively. “A source familiar with the issue in the Ministry of Industry, Mine, and Trade said, “the retail price of sugar in one-kilo packages was already  87,000 rials [$0.37]… Now, one-kilo package of sugar has become 150,000 rials [$0.46]. The increase of edible oil price has implemented from yesterday,” Etemad Online wrote.

Bread is the most important and commonly used item in Iranian families’ food baskets, regardless of their financial classes. Recently, there were whispers about a rise in the price of essential foodstuffs. Now, people in many provinces witness a silent increase in prices.

In most Tehran’s districts, the bread price has unofficially been raised. Citizens protest the increase in prices and shrinking sizes of bread loaves. Officials initially denied the news. Just like two years ago, they announced that bakeries should obey official directives and sell the bread in accordance with the approved prices.

Officials’ refusal to offer free or cheap flour to bakeries has intensified public anger. Citizens and even state-backed observers believe that the government can easily fix the prices. However, it avoids doing in favor of society due to systematic corruption that has engulfed the entire ruling system.

Notably, on May 3, Shahrvand website had reported that only a very small percent of Iran’s population can afford rice. “As a result of the increase in the price of rice, only 15 million of Iran’s 82-million-strong population can purchase rice without difficulty and consume this nutritious product,” Shahrvand quoted the secretary of the Rice Importers Association Masih Keshavarz as saying.

Furthermore, officials expressed their concerns over the public backlash. “The people can no longer tolerate this amount of high prices. In such circumstances, meat has been removed from people’s food baskets,” said Javad Hosseini-Kia, MP from the western province of Kermanshah.

In reality, he pointed to the removal of essential goods from people’s product baskets. In other words, citizens had to bid farewell to many foodstuffs like meat, fruits, and dairy since a long time ago, and they only struggle to feed their family members with bread.

In this respect, Abufazel Razavi Ardakani, the Friday Imam and the Supreme Leader’s Representative in Shiraz, showed his concerns over the public apathy to the upcoming Presidential election, which authorities fear would lead to a strong rebuke of the entire Islamic Republic system.

“Some say, ‘The people will not participate in the election.’ So, why do they refuse to participate? The pressure of high prices and imprudence have taken many away from the [Islamic] Revolution… A worker whose salary does not cover his expenditures, or someone who does not receive his salary at all… You must be careful about the people’s conditions. Failing to control the prices imposes nervous pressure on people,” Fars news agency quoted Ardakani as saying.

Iran Focus

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Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.