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EghtesadOnline: Constant changes in the prices of goods and services have become a new normal in the past several months.

Retailers charge you more for the same item you bought as early as yesterday on the pretext that the US dollar’s value has gone up. 

The rise in the prices of locally-made products is no less than that of imported goods. Agricultural products, fruits in particular, are among items with ever-shifting prices these days. 

In the Iranian month Mordad (July 23-Aug. 22), the highest price hikes among food products were registered for apple with 38.6%, oranges with 29.8% and chicken with a 28.7% rise compared with the previous month, Financial Tribune reported.

No price decline was registered for the month, according to the latest report by the Statistical Center of Iran. 

“A single type of fruit changes hands upwards of six times in the supply chain to get to the retailer,” Yasser Raygani, the spokesman of ‘Tazirat’ Organization—a judiciary-affiliated oversight body dealing with trading offenses—told the Persian daily Iran.

“Presently, the main reason behind the rise in the prices of imported fruits is fluctuations in the foreign currency market while middlemen are mostly blamed for the hike in domestically-produced fruit price,” he explained. 

The Iranian fruit market is replete with all types of imported products, although officially only the import of six types of fruit, namely coconuts, pineapples, mangos, mangosteen, papaya and bananas, is allowed. 

Banana is in fact one of Iran’s top non-oil imports. Latest customs data show a total of 141,139 tons of bananas worth $137 million were imported into Iran during the first quarter of the current Iranian year (March 21-June 21), which shows a 24% drop in weight and a 3% decrease in value year-on-year. 

The imports made up 1.69% of the overall weight and 1.24% of the overall value of all non-oil imports into the country during the first three months of the current year, showing a 0.9% YOY drop in tonnage, but no significant difference in value percentage.  

Last year, about $544 million worth of bananas were imported into Iran.

 Frost Damage

The heavy frost in April, which inflicted extensive damage on orchards across 17 Iranian provinces, is believed to be the secondary cause of the rise in fruit prices.

According to Deputy Agriculture Minister Mohammad Ali Tahmasebi, more than 640,000 hectares of fruit orchards incurred losses of up to 110 trillion rials (over $1.12 billion) due to the frost, IRNA reported. 

Shokrollah Hajivand, an official with the Ministry of Agriculture, told ILNA in May that some 3 million tons of fruit were lost across the country since the beginning of the current Iranian year on March 21.  

Habib Radfar, an advisor to the agriculture minister, put this year’s decrease in production of cold climate fruits, including cherries, tomatoes and peaches at 10-15%.

“The country faces no shortage of cold hardy fruits despite the decline in output. Production of dates, orange, tangerine, lime, lemon, grape fruit, pomegranate, kiwi and olive have increased this year (March 2018-19),” he said.

Despite the upturn in production of oranges, as the official said, a kilogram of oranges went for 95,974 rials (98 cents) in Mordad, to register the highest year-on-year price rise for a food item. 

The retail price for oranges in the month ending August 22, which marks the end of Iranian month of Mordad, increased by 85.8% compared with the same period of last year. 

The second and third biggest year-on-year price rises in Mordad among food items were registered for cucumbers and apples with 84.1% and 83.7%, respectively. A kilogram of cucumbers was sold at 35,950 rials (36 cents) and a kilogram of apples went for 77,377 rials (about 79 cents). 

The biggest year-on-year drop in food prices was reported for onions. A kilogram of onions was sold at 17,523 rials (about 18 cents), registering a decrease of 47.5% YOY. 

The Consumer Price Index of “Food and Beverages” group in the 12-month period ending August 22 increased by 11.8% compared with last year’s corresponding period, the SCI reported. 

The “Food and Beverages” CPI (using the Iranian year to March 2017 as the base year) stood at 138.5 in Mordad, indicating an 8.6% rise compared with the previous month. 

The index for “Food and Beverages” registered a year-on-year increase of 24.7% compared with the similar month of last year.

 

Iran Fruit Prices