Iranian Bazaars are buzzing with people excitedly going shopping following the last two subdued Ramadans. And this year, the holy month comes immediately after the Nowruz holidays so there are now two good reasons to go shopping. And while there is a more positive vibe in the air years of US sanctions have taken their toll on average Iranians’ fortunes.
Hadi Aliabadi (Shop keeper)The Market is better than last year but you can’t say it has returned to its pre-pandemic levels. Considering the economic conditions, the people’s purchasing power is low and although the market has improved, it isn’t back to normal.
And many people cannot afford to buy all they want for their Ramadan Feasts.
Pouya Rashidi (Customer)I bought barberries and beans, but the prices are very high, The stocks are full but the prices are high. We have to buy a little amount of any food item we want.
People have been grappling with tough economic conditions since the US pulled out of the Iran Nuclear agreement five years ago and reinstated crippling sanctions on the country. Couple that with the pandemic; and inflation has skyrocketed along with local currency nosediving.
But unlike several other countries in the Middle East, Russia’s war in Ukraine hasn’t had a tangible impact on food prices in Iran. The price of wheat the main staple of Iranian cuisine has remained unchanged for the past year. And price rises in other food items have been in line with the usual inflation pattern of the past few years.
Hasan Forouzanfard ( Tehran Chamber of Commerce)In Iran, a public organization buys the entire wheat supplies of the country whether the domestic Production or imports. The supplies are then stored and are handed over to bakeries with a pre-planned price for the entire year. Therefore, regardless of any changes in World prices the bakeries will pay a fixed amount of price for their wheat.
The strategy has worked for now. And the faithful in Iran don’t have to worry about a food shortage during Ramadan. But Iran imports a great share of its wheat, com, and oil seeds from Russia and Ukraine. And a prolonged conflict in Europe’s breadbasket could potentially upset the food tables of Iranians.