According to Iranian media outlets, the purchasing power of Iranian families has significantly decreased in recent months. “High prices and inflation are killing the people,” citizens frequently chant in their socio-economic protests. At the same time, the Iranian government is planning to raise staple food prices once again, despite promises made by the Iranian regime’s president Ebrahim Raisi.
In mid-May, Raisi’s cabinet increased the cost of essential items, including bread, egg, chicken, and cooking oil, which prompted nationwide protests for a couple of weeks. The government’s supervising apparatuses are continuing to pass enactments and directives, paving the path for further hikes in people’s crucial foodstuffs.
Why does the Regime Increase Food Staple Prices Despite Society’s Backlash?
The National Standard Organization has recently set new measures for companies producing essential food items. The semiofficial ILNA news agency cited the directive, clause-5, on July 8, which stated, “[The companies] must insert the name and type of food product in accordance with the national standard and clearly with the same font and larger than the commercial brand and other nominal specifications.”
The directive prompted foodstuff producers to protest because they had already provided advertisements and product packaging boxes and stored them in warehouses months prior.
Mohsen Naghashi, the Food and Agricultural Product Federation secretary, said, “Several producers had received facilities from banks for printing cellophane and labels. They would burden with massive disadvantages if they had to ignore them and throw them away. Officials don’t care about the expert opinion of producers and syndicates before making and approving decisions.”
Background and Failed Experiences
In 2010, the Food & Drug Organization ordered food producers to insert colored health labels on their packaging boxes. At the time, the syndicates tried to postpone the order’s implementation due to their stored labels and the massive disadvantages the implementation would cause.
Today, the producers are again dealing with such unilateral decisions, which also come with their disadvantages. The National Standard Organization is significantly hitting domestic production and small businesses, while the country continues to suffer from an unprecedented recession.
Naghashi added, “The officials who prepare and ratify such plans are undoubtedly unfamiliar with the production cycle.”
Behind the Curtain
Regarding systematic corruption, which has engulfed the entire ruling system, the state-backed mafia is behind such plans. In his interview, Naghashi spoke about a number of ‘anti-domestic-production movements’, also known as the plundering mafia that sabotages national production.
He said, “Anti-domestic-production movements in Iran have appeared to impose more severe blows to producers. Small business units cannot afford their expenses in various aspects such as energy, raw material, etc., and they would eventually be purged from the production cycle. Great units also face disruption with sudden enactments.”
One producer screamed about people’s challenges in providing fuel, electricity, and raw material, stating, “However, the government insists on some issues, which solve no problem but make them complicated. I have spent 1.5 trillion rials [$5,000] on printing labels and package ads. How should I compensate for these expenses if the National Standard Organization implemented this directive?”
Such directives would only equate to higher prices, sinking more people into poverty and starvation. As the Parliament [Majlis] approved workers’ minimum monthly wages of 41.8 million rials [$140], the National Standard Organization’s latest enactment only adds insult to millions of working families’ injuries, who have not seen many essential food staples in their food baskets for months.