Shortages of powdered milk and baby formula continue in Iran, as prices jump by at least 40 percent because the government has not provided foreign currency for imports.
The shortages began in March and reports in local media say most pharmacies and drug stores have run out of locally produced and more affordable powdered milk. Factories in Iran rely on imports of raw materials to produce powdered milk, which in turn need foreign currency allocation by the government.
Imports of major foodstuff, medication and other necessities depend on the government providing around $15 billion of foreign currency annually, but allocations have been slow in the past two years and prices have skyrocketed.
Reports indicate that baby formula packaged abroad and imported in small quantities is available, but each package costs up to $15, which most Iranians cannot afford. Average monthly wages for workers is $150 and food price inflation has been running at around 80 percent in the past two years.
Media in Tehran have also been reporting shortages of medication, while some government officials periodically deny any problems. The government allocates around $3 billion to import raw material for pharmaceutical products.
It is difficult to explain the government’s reluctance to provide sufficient foreign currency for imports of essential goods, when it says its oil exports have increased. The United States also agreed recently to allow around $16 billion of Iran’s frozen funds to be unblocked.