State-Backed Mafia Removes Red Meat From Iranians’ Food Basket

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As Iranian families are compelled to cut their food basket and remove meat from their menu, the authorities insist on costly foreign policies
As Iranian families are compelled to cut their food basket and remove meat from their menu, the authorities insist on costly foreign policies

By Jubin Katiraie

In the last month, the news of Iran’s red meat market only shows turmoil. In this context, red meat has been removed from many Iranian families’ product basket due to a 100-percent increase in prices. Furthermore, there was news over the livestock smuggling and… Now, comments by the director-manager of the country livestock farmers’ union Saeed Soltani shed light on the new scope of this turmoil. He has recently said that brokers obtain 40 percent profit from each kilogram of red meat.

Soltani attributed high prices of red meat to brokers and intermediaries. “Market Regulation Headquarters has declared beef’s price is 700,000 rials [$2.80] per kilogram. However, this price has no economic benefit for livestock farmers because the ultimate price is 320,000 rials [$1.30] per each kilogram of live weight for farmers,” he said.

“It was decided to offer beef in 745,000-rial [$3.10] packages to consumers in places where the price of meat is high, which would equalize the prices. If this decision is implemented, that means livestock farmers sell their product at $3.10 and consumers buy by at the same price, leaving both producers and customers satisfied,” Soltani said.

However, he did not say who must purchase, roll in packages, and offer them to markets? Instead, Soltani highlighted the role of non-producer parties in the market. “No one except brokers and intermediaries controls the country’s red meat market,” he revealed.

“Last year, surplus meat was imported. When the meat is imported and offered to the consumer market, in practice, domestic producers cannot offer their meat to the consumer market at the prices they have incurred,” Soltani said.

On the other hand, Ali Asghar Maleki, president of the Mutton Union, says that the reason for the high price of red meat is fluctuation in the foreign currency exchange rate and the livestock farmers’ temptation to export cattle abroad. This issue, of course, was rejected by Soltani. “We have repeatedly stated that the farmers do not determine the price of meat in the market, and despite the great efforts of production, the minimum profit reaches the farmer,” he affirmed.

Head of the Livestock Farmers’ Union criticized brokers’ reign on the red meat supply and demand affairs. He affirmed that slaughterhouses do not directly purchase meat from livestock farmers. “Intermediary and broker rings are amplifying the high prices and dramatic difference in prices from livestock farms to slaughterhouses,” Soltani said.

Furthermore, in Iran, many livestock has yet to verify, which paves the path for smuggling. “The smuggling of livestock will continue until the verification process is completed. All these parameters contributed to raising the red meat prices for consumers,” Soltani added.

The president of the Cattlemen’s Guild Association Seyed Ahmad Moqaddasi also criticized the expensive prices of red meat. He introduced brokers and intermediary elements as the main reason for the current difference between producers’ prices and paid by customers. “It is expected that officials exercise a series of measures to decrease prices because there is a possibility of self-sufficiency in red-meat area,” Moqaddasi said.

All the while, according to a survey about Iranian families’ product basket performed by a group of students, over two million Iranian households did not consume red meat at all in the past year. “In recent months, every now and then one of the food items overtakes other products in a dramatic increase in prices. One day its eggs, another day its cheese and dairy, and now meat,” wrote ShahrAra website.

The survey indicates that the percentage of families who consume meat—for a few days per month—has decreased from 43.4 percent last year to 32.8 percent this year. Additionally, the number of families who removed the meat from their food basket has grown from 4.7 percent in 2019 to 8.2 percent in 2020.

Notably, this June, the price of red and chicken meat increased by 13 percent, fish by 5.4 percent, and milk, cheese, and eggs by 11.4 percent. In other words, most food items have witnessed 3.7-percent inflation in June.

According to global statistics, meat consumption per capita is 43 kilograms annually. However, this number is about 27 kilograms per year—of course for those who can actually afford it. In this respect, the Faraz website previously acknowledged that meat consumption and the Iranian families’ food baskets are directly dependent on the minimum payments of workers and low-income segments of the society, which have not changed despite the rising inflation.

All the mentioned factors prove that people’s living conditions are deteriorating on a daily basis and Iranian households have no option other than decreasing their food consumption due to economic pressures. On the other hand, there is no passing day without the revelation of a new financial scandal, corrupt case, and embezzlement among top officials, adding insult to society’s injuries.

And parallel to raising essential goods’ prices, confiscating and destroying impoverished people’s sheds, and brutally suppressing any opposition voice, the ayatollahs are spending billions of dollars on funding their allies and proxies t the Middle East and across the globe. These issues, along with systematic corruption and the government’s mismanagement in different sectors such as the economy, health, housing, civil and human rights have exhausted the people’s tolerance and tempted the society to release their ire against the entire ruling system in the upcoming months.

“Given the internal imprudence, our people do not care about political factions and are not satisfied this status quo… unexpected political-social events are possible prior to mid-December,” wrote Entekhab website on August 30.

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