Iran to Produce Up to 5 Percent More Red Meat This Year, Official Says

Iran will produce 4 to 5 percent more beef and lamb this year compared to last, bringing the country one step closer to self-sufficiency, the semi-official Fars news agency reported, citing Morteza Rezaei, Deputy Agriculture Jihad Minister for Livestock.

“Traders will buy and sell livestock at much lower prices, which will ultimately raise the production level of red meat,” Mr. Rezaei explained. “Brokers mark up beef and lamb prices 400 to 500 percent. They push up prices so they can take their hefty commission.”

Rezaei did not, however, explain how the government planned to stop brokers from trading on the meat market.

Recent data has shown a significant drop in domestic production of beef and lamb meat. Many traders have been struggling financially in recent months, which has forced some of them to either reduce or completely shut down production. The majority of them cannot afford the increasing cost of production, including transport and wages.

Iran imports between 60 to 70 percent of its livestock and poultry feed, which increases the price of meat and protein products, a report by Fars news agency said.

“ Current meat prices are reasonable, given the cost of production and animal feed. It is the shortage of meat in the market that raises the price,” The Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) reported earlier this month, , citing Samad Ranjbar, the Director of Trade and Development of the Fars Province Agriculture Jihad Organization.

According to a survey conducted by the Statistical Center of Iran, 2.7 percent and 43.3 percent of the population, respectively, ate meat daily versus a few times a month last year. Most Iranian families consume less than 10 kilograms of meat a year.  Nearly 5 percent of those who took part in the survey said they had eaten no red meat in the past year.

A worker on the minimum wage earns around $361 a month. Under the government’s price control scheme, a kilogram of red meat costs $24, which means that a worker has to pay a month’s salary to buy 15.3 kilograms of beef or lamb. The minimum monthly wage for a worker was around $44 in 2007. A kilogram of red meat, however, cost less than two dollars at the time, so a worker could have bought nearly 29 kilograms of beef or lamb with a month’s wages.

[Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi]