In tandem with the rise in red meat prices in Iran in recent years, Iranian families have been forced to consume less of it. According to a report provided by Tehran’s Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mine, and Agriculture, per capita annual red meat consumption in Iran was between 10 to 12 kilograms in 2013. This number reached 8 kilograms in 2020, according to the chamber’s latest report.
This issue would be more painful when we compare this amount with other countries. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), red meat consumption per capita in Ghana and Tanzania is 9 and 10 kilograms, respectively. This number reaches 14.5 kilograms in the war-torn country of Yemen. Also, the Singaporeans, Germans, and French annually consumed around 26, 45.7, and 57.7 kilograms of red meat in 2019.
The Tragedy Is not Limited to Red Meat Consumption
This decline in meat consumption is not limited to red meat alone, but Iranian families consume fish 10 kilograms less than the global average. Instead, the people resorted to consuming white meat. In November 2020, Eghtesad Online website reported that “during the past two years, chicken consumption per capita has grown from 20 to 30 kilograms.”
Other statistics prove the decrease in red meat consumption and the growth in chicken meat consumption. For instance, in June 2019, the chief of livestock and poultry stats bureau in Iran’s Statistic Center acknowledged that “chicken consumption per capita had increased from 17.6 kilograms in 2011 to more than 21 kilograms in 2017.”
Furthermore, the price of both red meat and chicken meat has doubled in recent years. However, there is still a flagrant distinction between prices. For example, the chicken price has reached from 115,000 to 230,000 rials [$0.46-0.92] per kilo, while the red meat price increased from 1 to 2 million rials [$4-8] per kilo.
During recent years, Iranian citizens have experienced unprecedented financial problems. Many people like workers, employees, and even nurses and teachers have yet to receive their salaries for months while no day goes by without news about officials’ corruption and embezzlement cases. In such circumstances, many citizens, particularly low-income families, have resorted to consuming chicken meat rather than red meat.
While this is not the whole story, but it is a stark view of Iran’s society. Today, many people cannot provide essential foodstuff for their families, and they spend hours in crowded and long queues for items such as edible oil, bread, rice amidst the coronavirus outbreak.
Economic Dilemmas Shrink Iranians’ Food Basket
Economic dilemmas have driven low-income citizens to consume low-price meat and foodstuff; however, several million people whose breadwinners lost their careers during the past year suffer from unimaginable hardship. According to official stats, at least 600,000 workers and employees lost their job in the past year.
Recently, officials announced more than 90 percent of working families are below the poverty line. However, Iranian workers suffer from systematic discrimination, meaning the minimum monthly wage approved by the Parliament (Majlis) is 26.55 million rials [$106.20] while the poverty line has reached 100-130 million rials [$400-520].
In fact, it is forecasted that the current growing rate of prices, especially in foodstuff prices, has led the majority of Iran’s society to poor nutrition. Given the $400 poverty line and workers’ $106 monthly wage, Iranians have no solution except shrinking their food baskets, which may spark social protests in the upcoming months due to expanding public distrust and hatred against the government.