As high inflation ravages Iran’s economy, the price for potatoes has doubled to 90,000 rials per kilo, or around 70 US cents, in recent weeks.
Industry representatives in Iran attribute the rapid rise of vegetable and fruit prices to exports, as the depreciated Iranian currency gives an incentive to merchants to export rather than sell the produce in the country.
The same incentive to export has also affected prices for tomatoes and onions, and even beef, which is subsidized by the government.
The Iranian currency rial has dropped fourfold against the dollar in 18 months, and that makes prices seem low compared to other countries. But in local currency prices have skyrocketed for Iranians whose incomes are in rials.
While 70 cents for a kilo of potatoes (30 cents per pound) might not seem a lot, the monthly minimum wage in Iran is around $100.
Tabnak, a news website in Iran, said that the price rise is also related to unprecedented floods in March and April this year, which disrupted agriculture in many parts of Iran.
However, the head of Iran’s produce merchants’ association told local media on July 2 that there is no shortage of potatoes and the price rise is simply the result of exports.
The Iranian Ministry of Industry, Mining and Commerce banned the export of onions and potatoes in April, but apparently influential businessmen and insiders find ways to continue making a profit from Iran’s falling currency.