Living in Tehran: Understanding product prices in Iran

Understanding product prices in Iran is confusing for new arrivals. However, the one significant benefit of locally produced items in Tehran is that they are fixed! Yes, that’s right! From freshly baked Iranian bread to cleaning products, all prices are set by the government to avoid runaway inflation.

Before 2013, when hyperinflation damaged peoples spending power, prices of local products fluctuated on the whim of the shop owner. In 2012, inflation in Iran hit above 40%, with people unsure of how much their next weekly trip to the supermarket would cost. Following that uncertain period, the former Ahmadinejad administration put in place a set of measures that would calm the panic of shoppers with fixed price controls on a raft of different home items.

In the following years, shopping in Iran has become a lot less stressful with each item produced in the country given a laser printed price somewhere on the packet (half the job is finding the little laser printed price).

However, we’re not out of the woods just yet. Although you can now shop in comfort, prices on most products are printed in Perso/Arabic numerals and not Western Arabic (which the West uses) so best to brush up on your Persian mathematical skills to find out the fixed price of the product – or ask the shopkeep.

A friend of LiT who moved to Iran described how she purchased imported Pampers diapers from Turkey before she realised locally produced Molfix – also a Turkish brand – were two thirds cheaper.

Imported Items

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If an Iranian company can produce the same product locally then under current law, they can lobby for foreign products to be banned or charged a punitive tax. This form of protectionism is mostly enforced, however, a quick look in any supermarket and one can see several imported products on the shelves.

So, if you do see a foreign-produced item, you will more often than not see a hefty price tag on them by that particular store, be it Heinz ketchup or Persian Gulf country-destined cleaning products.

Are equivalent Iranian products good?

Iranian products are not bad at all! Especially sauces, crisps and cleaning items (if I do say so myself). Moreover, many foreign companies have partnership deals with local firms, so you are inclined to see foreign-branded things like Domestos manufactured in Iran.

So, it’s well worth to purchase Made in Iran in most cases, and your pocket will thank you!

For more information on day-to-day financial advice in Iran, why not check our banking page!

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