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Basmati rice is set to become a much cheaper addition to UK curries this year in the wake of another import ban from Iran.

In the next few months, Mintec believes prices could fall below the all-time low of £360/tonne, which was reached in November 2015 during Iran’s last import ban on rice.

Iran, which is the largest importer of Indian basmati rice and buys up 20% of the country’s rice exports, introduced an import ban on all rice on 22 July 2016 to protect its own farmers’ incomes during the rice harvest.

News of the ban caused Indian basmati prices to rise in early July as people rushed to complete contracts before it came into effect, but prices have been falling since oversupply started hitting markets in August.

In the week from 17 August to 24 August, prices fell 4% to £467/tonne - and significant further drops are expected as the year progresses.

This is Iran’s second import ban on rice in two years, and last time the effect on Indian basmati prices was dramatic.

The previous ban was introduced in October 2014 due to good production and plentiful domestic stocks, and lasted until December 2015. In that time, Indian basmati prices fell from about £800/tonne to under £400/tonne due to oversupply. Prices for basmati rice from Pakistan, another major global exporter, were also affected.

How far basmati prices will drop this time may depend on exports to other Middle Eastern nations, such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, where rice exporters have been quick to capitalise on growing demand.

However, the mountain of Indian basmati left by the lack of sales into Iran will certainly have an effect on basmati prices in months to come.