Protests have broken out in several cities in Iran over soaring food costs. Social media posts have revealed large demonstrations in the areas of Rasht, Farsan, and Neyshabur; according to one Iranian lawmaker, at least one person has been killed so far in the southwest. Dozens of protesters are believed to have been arrested as well.
The protests broke out after the state removed subsidies for imported wheat and other foods, causing immediate price hikes of up to 300% on various flour-based staples along with chicken, eggs, and milk.
The removal of subsidies comes amid a slew of mounting internal and external pressures facing the Iranian government. Foremost among them is the impact of the Ukraine war on key food staples. The global market in sunflower oil, for example, is about half-supplied by Ukraine, with another 25% originating in now sanction-hit Russia. Iran imports about half of its cooking oil from Ukraine. Bread prices have been similarly impacted: Ukraine is the world’s sixth-largest wheat exporter, accounting for around 10% of the global market, and global prices have nearly doubled since Russia invaded in late February.