Iranian cuisine includes very distinctive tastes and has a feel of Middle Asian cuisines. Containing overtones from the Persian cuisine, Iran has an effect on the different cultures it hosts. Pilau and bread are among the indispensable meals of the Iranian cuisine. The most delicious food in Iran is bread. Sangak, barbari, taftoon, and lavash rank among the most popular bread types of the country. And as for pasta, although it is a relatively new product for Iran, it is still quite popular in the country. The biscuits sector is very active in the country. This sector employs more than 65 thousand people.
Iran is a Middle Eastern country with a population of 82 million. It is known for its ethnic and cultural diversity. Its population consists of Persian, Azeri, Kurd, Lur, Baloch, Arab, Turkmen and other Turkic groups. Azeri Turkic and Turkic dialects, Kurdish, Gilaki and Mazandarani, Luri, Balochi and Arabic are the main languages spoken apart from Persian, which is the official language of Iran. The overwhelming majority of the country is Muslim.
PASTA PRODUCTS IN IRAN
According to 2013 data of International Pasta Organization (IPO), Iran manufactures 560 thousand tons of pasta per year. In fact, this high amount of production has many reasons. Some come as follows: affordability, convenience, nutritional values. Furthermore, a variety of different samples in supermarkets and extensive commercials on media along with people’s economic problems have made this product popular in Iranian market. Interestingly, an average Iranian consumes about 8.5 kg of dried pasta annually, which is in a trend of increase according to IPO 2013 report.
Pasta is a rather new product in Iran. The first time that pasta was produced in Iran, goes back to 1934 when pasta was made in a very small plant of “Lubel” with simple Machinery only to serve the foreign diplomats and embassy members living in Iran. The production of about 20 to 30 kilograms a day was back then more than enough and it simply found its way to Iranian dishes and is now very trendy.
As Iranian have liked pasta and use it as one of their favorite meals, there have been many companies producing pasta and spaghetti locally. Almost all of Iranian people (96%) have pasta in their diet. By far there are about 50 brands that produce pasta in Iran and among them 5 brands hold almost 70% of the Iranian pasta market in their hands. These brands are Tak Makaron, Zar Macaron, Mana, Mak, and Samira.
Pasta is produced in as different as 350 shapes and sizes around the world. But there are some shapes more common in Iran than the others such as: fussilli, spaghetti, penne, farfalle and pastas. The consumption of pasta as a healthy food with short preparation time has been increased by Iranian household and is growing constantly. 44% of Iran’s population is young and change in their eating behavior is affecting the society and the next generation. Such a change can only be made with slight changes such as adding new dishes with minimum preparation time, such as pizza or pasta. With yearly consumption of about 8.5 kilo per capita, Iran is ranked as the eighth country in consuming pasta, succeeding Chile, Peru and Germany. Pasta consumption in Iran has been doubled in comparison to last 20 years and is estimated to be doubled by the next decade.
About 40 thousand tons of produced pasta is exported mostly to the neighboring countries, CIF countries and some African countries. It is also one of the top 20 products that have been exported from Iran to Europe with a value of 1 million Euros.
The new generation is eager to new things, which ends up to keen costumer who wants to try new products and brands. After the sanctions against Iran are lifted, the Iranian market is much friendly toward new products in order to keep up with world. The consumption of pasta in Iran is correlated to the rise in price of rice and wheat which leads to rise in bread rice. 99% of consumed pasta and spaghetti in Iran is produced within the Iranian borders and the products are compatible with foreign products. And the prices are much cheaper than the foreign brands.
BISCUITS PRODUCTS IN IRAN
In Iran many different kind of biscuits are produced, thanks to the availability of various kind of local nuts (almond, walnut, pistachio) and spices (e.g. cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, saffron).
The value added of Biscuit and candy industry is high and its annual turnover is estimated over almost 4.7$ billion. Although more than 500 million dollars of these products was exported to 66 countries around the world in 2015, the number can exceed to 700$ million.
Almost 65 thousand occupations directly are dependent on biscuit and candy industry excluding other related industries (e.g. flour, sugar and oil industries). Thanks to the reopening of Iran market, more than 376 local and 76 international companies from 20 countries attended the Iranian biscuit and candy trade fair in September 2016.
In despite of the presence of the world leading biscuit products such as ‘Danisa’, ‘Toffy’, ‘Lacker’, ‘Delux’, ‘ETI’ (which are much better than their Iranian competitors in the product range and packaging) in Iran, many consumers prefer to buy domestic products. Currently here are around 300 companies active in this field.
In the period of March to September 2016, approximately 22,000 tons of biscuits ($39 million) were exported to 38 countries around the world such as USA, England, China, Singapore, Malaysia, and Netherlands. Also, the most costumers are Iraq and Afghanistan. In comparison, Iran imports different kind of biscuits every year and the value of imports exceeded 600$ million last year. So Iran can be considered as a big biscuits importer.
Iran can be considered a good target market for international companies to produce their products locally in Iran in order to export to Middle East. In order to establish a biscuit facility in Iran, after determining the location of the production unit, issued license will be assessed and if environmental considerations are met, license will be issued for one year. Establishing a manufacturing plant requires a minimum of 120,000$ and 4 workforces should be employed.
BREAD PRODUCTS IN IRAN
Traditional and ethnic Iranian breads are famous for their taste, quality, and varieties. There are two main reasons why Iranian national cuisine has a wide variety of breads: bread is considered as the first food of the Iranian people and its consumption in the daily diet is very common; and Iran as an integrated country accommodates various ethnic groups. Sangak, barbari, taftoon, and lavash are the most popular breads in Iran. Iranian breads are prepared in different composition, shape, size, texture, color, and flavor.
Sangak is a thin and flat bread type. It is considered as one of the national breads of the Iranian cuisine. What is unique about the sangak bread is the way of baking in a traditional oven. Sangak in Persian means “pebble” or “small stone.” This bread is baked on a bed of hot pebbles in an oven.
Barbars were an ethnic group indigenous to northeastern Iran that borders Afghanistan. Barbari implies of or related to barbars. The barbars brought this bread to Tehran. The baker rests the flattened dough on a table for preparation for the baking process. Sprinkling seeds such as sesame over the dough is very common before baking. Finally, the dough is carefully inserted with a long wooden paddle into a heated oven.
Taftun or taftoon, is a Persian word that is derived from “tafan”, meaning “heating”, “burning”, or “kindling.” Analyzing the literary documents and the Iranian national epics such as Shahname show that the word “taftan” has been used for several centuries. In the past, the only way of making taftun was the baking of bread dough in a tandoor or clay oven. However, the baking of taftun in a rotary oven or baking machine has been common in recent years. Sometimes, taftun is made with a little salt or without it.
Lavash is a soft and thin flat bread type that is prepared in a clay oven, rotary oven, baking machine, or tandoor. Lavash, a popular bread type in Turkey as well, is one of the most widespread types of bread in Iran. Also, lavash varies in size from about 30 cm in length to over 0.5 m, and in shape from circular to oblong or square.