How Much Does an Omelet Cost in Iran?

January 4, 2022
Bahram Khodabandeh
4 min read
How Much Does an Omelet Cost in Iran?

Subsistence for many in Iran has been a crisis point for years and reached new heights on November 3 last year, when the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) reported that according to a study by the Supreme Center of Islamic Labor Councils: “The cost of a minimum family food basket reached 11.479 million tomans [US$419] in October 2021. This food basket is based on one hot and two cold meals per day for 15 days.”

The study calculates that the cost of food for an average family of 3.3 people has exceeded four million tomans ($146), including 3.467 million tomans ($126.56) for food and within that, 733,000 tomans ($26.76) for fruit and vegetables. The calculation is based on the assumption of three daily meals, costing 22,000 tomans ($0.80) for breakfast, close to 72,000 tomans ($2.63) for lunch and fewer than 22,000 tomans ($0.80) for dinner.

A large proportion of workers and office employees in Iran make less than 11.5 million tomans ($420) per month. Based on the Center’s estimates, this means many will be unable to afford three square meals a day.

In December 2019, IranWire published a report that asked if a low-income family in Iran could afford to one omelet dish a day. We found the average cost of preparing one such meal amounted to the total daily food budget of a simple worker at the time.

A lot has happened between December 2019 and October 2021. Let us examine how much the cost of making one plate of omelet – plus a pot of tea – has changed since then.

The Cost of Making an Omelet

To make a smallish, traditional Persian tomato omelet for a family of three, we assumed the following would be needed: five medium-sized eggs (around 330g), 1kg of tomatoes, 10gof cooking oil, one full-sized sangak bread, around 2gs of tea, and 5g of sugar.

Our calculations are based on average prices as reported by the Statistical Center of Iran on November 2, 2021. In October, the average price of a kilogram of eggs was 29,160 tomans ($1.06) so five medium-sized eggs would have cost close to 10,000 tomans ($0.37). A kilo of tomatoes cost on average 9,260 tomans ($0.34) – allowing for regional variations. Back in October, 900g of cooking oil in urban areas set the average consumer back 17,710 tomans ($0.65), putting the price of 10g at less than a cent, while 2g of tea cost 500 tomans (two cents) and 5g of sugar around 100 tomans (less than half a cent).

Meanwhile, early last summer, the officially-approved price of a loaf of sangak bread was set at 3,000 tomans (11 cents). In reality bread prices tend to cost more at the bakery but for our purposes, we assumed the official guide price was being followed.

In sum, one meal of omelet for a family of three would have cost around 23,000 tomans (84 cents). This comes before the additional cost of electricity, gas and water needed to make the meal, and any seasoning. It might not seem like much – but how does the price compare to the average family budget?

The Cost of an Omelet Compared to the Family Income

According to a recent directive issued by the Ministry of Labor, the monthly minimum wage now stands at 2.65 million tomans ($96.92). Years of experience, childcare allowances and other wages tend to mean most workers’ wages are higher than this: the average salary of a laborer is around 4.2 million tomans ($153.31) per month.

Households in the first to seventh income deciles, the Ministry reports, spend between 30 and 40 percent of income on food. In our laborer’s case, assuming they are the sole breadwinner, this means 1.4 million tomans ($51.10) to spend on food per month: or 46,000 tomans ($1.68) a day. On this budget, a family of three could just about pay for two meals of omelet a day – but practically nothing else.

Worse, the purchasing power of most Iranian households is not expected to change for the better in coming months. Inflation may have slowed down but it continues to increase, with the price of comestibles severely affected. In October 2021, according to the Statistical Center of Iran, food items were on average 60 percent more expensive than they were the year before. Bread, the staple food of most Iranian households, had doubled in price in 12 months. Meanwhile, inflation in other areas has left families with even less money to spend on feeding themselves.


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