Skyrocketing inflation is forcing an increasing number of Iranians to limit buying fruit and vegetables, industry experts say, as Iran continues to grapple with crippling international sanctions.

Asadollah Kargar, the head of the Fruit and Vegetable Sellers Association, said that fruit consumption has decreased by 50 percent because of rising prices.

“This increase in the price of fruit has caused some households in Iran to buy waste and throw away fruits,” he was quoted as telling the Resalat newspaper on August 11.

The Statistics Center of Iran said recently that inflation for food items in July hit 90.2 percent.

Kargar’s comments echo other remarks from major food producers.

Last month, a top official with the Beef Production and Distribution Union said that beef sales had dropped 20 percent, while the head of the Food Industry Federation said sales of overall food industry products had fallen by half.

The chairman of the Dairy Products Industry Association said household consumption in his sector had decreased by 20 percent in recent months, due to an 80 percent increase in prices for dairy products.

President Ebrahim Raisi’s government has struggled to curb the price hikes, which have raised social tensions. In May, the government announced “economic surgery,” a series of policies that include reforming subsidies and halting the devaluation of the exchange rate used to import essential goods such as food.

Raisi’s government also promised to give Iranians four million rials ($13) in subsidies for two months. But prices have continued to outpace the subsidies.

The economy has been devastated by years of sanctions imposed by the United States after Washington withdrew from the 2015 nuclear accord aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. Talks to revive that deal are ongoing.

Extreme inflation has rattled public institutions such as hospitals, prisons, and child-care centers, which are facing possible food shortages.

The economic woes have led to sizable protests in recent months, many of which have been met by crackdowns from security forces.

Source » rferl