The predicted plunge in the price of fragrant Basmati rice will be a welcome boost for restaurants and curry fans, according to experts.
Curry bosses said they were pleased with news that Iran, the largest importer of Indian rice, will impose an import ban in order to protect its own industry.
In August, prices fell four per cent to £467 a tonne and analysts believe it could fall below the all-time low of £360 a tonne in a few months.
Enam Ali, head of the Guild of Bangladeshi Restaurateurs, said eateries can afford to reduce the cost of meals and the price drop will help them recover from the weak pound.
Ali told Eastern Eye: “As long as the basmati supplier is not making money and will pass the reduction on, consumers, restaurants and Britain will enjoy.
“Restaurants will benefit by charging less. And suppliers can sell more Basmati than American long grain rice which is [was] cheaper.
“Because the pound is very low and weak, when you buy spices or fish from Bangladesh for example, this fall in the rice price will help.”
Hundreds of south Asian restaurants have had a tough year as problems in hiring talent from outside the EU due to the immigration laws led to a shortage of skilled chefs.
Iran introduced the import ban in July to protect its farmers’ incomes.
The last ban was in October 2014 and lasted 14 months, with rice from India and Pakistan falling from around £800 a tonne to under £400 due to oversupply.
Syed Belal Ahmed is editor of Curry Life Magazine and hosts Indian food festivals around the world.
Belal Ahmed told Eastern Eye: “The price fall of Basmati rice is welcome news for the British curry industry.
“According to one recent survey, the UK Indian restaurants get through more than 300,000 tonnes of rice a year.
“I am hoping that restaurants will take this opportunity to pass on the savings to their customers by offering good deals.
“Most importantly, now that prices are falling, they will go for more premier quality Basmati for biryani and other rice dishes and not to look for cheaper Basmati brands to boost their profits.”
Loraine Hudson, a market analyst, said of the development: “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.”