Iran is one of the major markets in the Middle East region in terms of food import and export. The country imported approximately USD 12.4 billion in food and related products in 2012, while export numbers stood at USD 5.6 billion. The numbers stood at USD 9.2 billion for imports and USD 3.6 billion for exports in 2009.
The primary reason for this stupendous increase in the food market in the country was the lifting of import restrictions in 2003. The trade figures of imported items have been on the rise ever since the Iranian Government lifted this restriction on imports. For instance, the country is one the highest importers of rice from India and Pakistan as well as other countries. The market is expected to continue growing and this makes the country one of the primary places for any business associated with food production and processing to explore and get a footing.
The commodities that have high demand and imported on regular basis include:
• Milk and related products
• Meats of all kind from frozen to ready-to-eat
• Coffee and tea
• Non-alcoholic beverages
• Fruits and its juices
• Confectionery and chocolate
• Cheese and cereals
These products listed above are in great demand in Iranian market and businesses importing them have enormous scope to earn huge profits. With the ban lifted on importers from across the globe, those in Central Asia and the Middle East are trying to get a strong foothold in the market. Other businesses including domestic as well as international ones could do well to import eatables into the country. There are several ways for companies that have no prior experience in this field to get food items into Iran.
Use Freight Service Companies
If you are keen on entering the food product market in Iran, then it makes sense to hire a good consultant or shipment company. These specialized agencies help guide the importer through the various rules and regulations. Most importantly, they provide an idea on import procedures, costs, and shipping methods. The agent or consultant also prepares documents and help in getting custom clearances.
Read the Rules and Regulations
Iran uses a country-specific protocol system for food imports and lays down the rules and standards accordingly. For non-meat items, the government inspects the quality before shipment and conducts other quality checks before the goods enter the market. All meat varieties are also inspected by an expert committee before it is shipped to the country. Iran Customs Cell and the Iran Veterinary Organization frame policies for setting up import rules and regulations in Iran.
Hire a Market Consultant
Using a marketing consultant will help you understand the demand for products and the best ways to sell them in Iran. For instance, higher-priced items would sell well in affluent neighborhoods while standard products will sell everywhere. Some domestic companies may be willing to go for a white-label partnership while others will be willing to market the product and get it from the warehouse to the end-user. A good consultant will help you negotiate through local customs and traditions and gain a proper foothold in the market. In some cases, the freight companies have people who can guide you in these matters. Always ask if they have some experts who can help you here.
Though the import market is huge and has great potential, importers have to pass several quality standards before letting the goods enter the market. If you are exploring the food business in the country, then bring the best quality on board. With superior products and allied services, agro-businesses will thrive and get good rates.
About the author:
Javanese Motaghi is the business development manager of White Rose Business Group established in 1992 to offer businesses and organizations, whether SME or large corporate enterprise, a unique cost-effective Import and Export solution covering the width and breadth of Iran, through having branches in four different locations of Iran; Tehran, Chabahar, Bandar Abbas and Sari.