EghtesadOnline: Iran exported $250 million worth of chocolate and confectionery during the first half of the current Iranian year (March 20-Sept. 21).
"Neighboring countries, CIS member states and European countries were among the main destinations," Mohsen Safdari, an official with the Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade, said in an interview with IRNA.
Iraq was the main importer of Iranian confectionery and chocolate during the six-month period, with $24.7 million. Afghanistan and Pakistan followed with $22.1 million and $7.5 million respectively.
“Iran exported $500 million worth of similar products in the last fiscal year. Dairy products top the list of Iran's food exports. They are followed by confectionery and chocolate,” he said.
Pastry and chocolate account for 30-40% of Iran’s total food exports, according to Secretary of Trade Promotion Organization of Iran's Pastry, Chocolate and Cereal Products Desk Gholamreza Sabz-Ali.
Ban on Imports
The Industries Ministry has banned the import of confectionaries and chocolate, in an attempt to support domestic producers.
Latest data show a total of 754 tons of chocolate worth close to $2.97 million were imported into Iran from 10 countries in the fiscal 2018-19.
Data released by the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration show Germany was the biggest exporter with 193 tons worth $987,000. Other major exporters of chocolate to Iran during the period under review were Spain, Italy, the UAE, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, India and Turkmenistan, Mizan Online reported.
According to the official, Iran's first cocoa processing factory has started operation earlier this week and this would lower the country's need for importing cocoa powder and butter to a considerable extent.
A total of $70 million worth of cocoa powder and butter were imported to Iran during the previous fiscal year that ended in March 2020.
Mahmoud Bazari, an official with Trade Promotion Organization of Iran, said H1 exports of confectionery, chocolate and cereals increased by 12% in value and 18% in weight on a year-on-year basis, ILNA reported.
Exports Hobbled by Coronavirus
The spread of the new coronavirus has dealt a blow to exporters as well as domestic suppliers in the sector.
Iran's exports of chocolate and pastry in fiscal 2018-19 stood at $800 million, according to Kaveh Zargaran, Iran commerce chamber official.
Iran produced 1.7 million tons of pastry and chocolates that year.
“Domestic demand has experienced a 20-30% decline since the virus outbreak began around two months ago. This is because the purchasing power has declined and under the circumstances, chocolate is not considered a priority in the household’s expenditure basket,” he was quoted as saying by Young Journalists Club.
350 Production Units
There are 350 chocolate and pastry production units in Iran.
According to the official, Iran produces 1.7 million tons of pastry and chocolate every year, while the nameplate capacity stands at 2.4 million tons per year
The city of Tabriz in West Azarbaijan Province is Iran’s chocolate and biscuit production hub and arguably that of the entire Middle East. About half of Iran’s biscuits and chocolates is produced in this northeastern city.
Fereydoun Doroudi, a board member of Iranian Confectionery Industries Union, said all the investments in this industry have been made by the private sector.
About 70% of the machinery used in Iran's chocolate and pastry industry are provided domestically.