Iranian citizens are facing a major food crisis after food prices have soared exponentially as a result of skyrocketing inflation.
Rising prices for basic commodities such as bread have prompted hundreds of Iranians to defy the authorities and take to the streets. In these demonstrations, slogans against Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei and president Ebrahim Raisi have led to days of protests marked by repression.
Hundreds of protesters were killed by the Iranian authorities and security forces in an "unprecedented" escalation of violence against civilians, Amnesty International said.
These price hikes, triggered by the government's removal of subsidies at the end of April, have tripled the price of several basic commodities, hitting a severely damaged economy. Inflation, currently running at around 40%, US sanctions and the COVID-19 pandemic have been key to the Shi'a country suffering one of its most significant economic crises. Moreover, the current conflict in Ukraine is also having an impact on prices as Kiev imports oil from Tehran.
As a consequence of this rise in prices, the vice-president of the Iranian Fruit and Vegetable Sellers' Association, Ismail Moradian, told the Iranian Workers' News Agency (ILNA) that consumption of fruit and vegetables has fallen by 25-30% after the prices of these products were affected by the increase approved by the government of President Ebrahim Raisi.
These statements came days after a member of the Board of Directors of the Federation of Beef Production and Distribution announced that sales of beef had fallen by 20% in recent weeks. Likewise, the Federation of Food Industries announced that total sales of food products had dropped by half throughout the country.
For his part, the head of the Dairy Industry Association stated that household consumption of dairy products had fallen by 20% in recent months, resulting in an 80% increase in dairy prices in the last month.
Last May, the 300% increase in prices of basic commodities such as oil, chicken, eggs and dairy products provoked strong riots in the streets. These protests were similar to those that took place in 2019, following sharp rises in the price of oil.
Also, in that month, the country's inflation stood at around 40%, the highest level recorded since 1994, at a time when youth unemployment has reached record highs. In addition, the Statistical Centre of Iran has published that 30% of the country's households are below the poverty line.
On the other hand, the Statistical Centre of Iran warned that the inflation rate in June rose to 52.2%, increasing by more than 10 points in less than a month.
In this context, the Tehran-based daily Etemad warned that the food security problem "could explode in the coming weeks" and that this situation could lead to food shortages. Food supplies will be halted in hospitals and other government facilities such as barracks, prisons, old people's homes and even student residences".