Statistics South Africa has published its Consumer Price Index (CPI) for August 2021, with inflation edging higher to 4.9% from 4.6% in July.
This is the fourth consecutive month where the annual increase is higher than the midpoint (4.5%) of the South African Reserve Bank’s monetary policy target range, the statistics body said.
The primary drivers behind the monthly rise were transport, petrol and food. Some of the largest annual price increases (August 2020 vs August 2021) were recorded for the following goods and services:
- Oils and fats: +21.3%
- Fuel: +19.6%
- Meat: +10.7%
- Electricity and other fuels: +13.9%
- Wine: +6.6%
- Fish: +6%
Petrol and transport
Transport was the most significant contributor to both the annual and monthly CPI readings in August, increasing by 9.9% annually and 2.2% monthly.
Vehicle prices increased at a rate higher than overall inflation across all 16 months from May 2020 to August 2021. In contrast, vehicle inflation mostly lagged overall inflation during 2018 and 2019.
Petrol prices recorded all-time highs in August 2021, with the price of inland 95-octane petrol, for example, reaching R18.30 per litre. Fuel prices increased by 4.9% between July and August and by 19.6% over the last 12 months.
Public transport fares registered an increase of 1.5% between July and August, underpinned by a rise in airfares (up 21.6%). The annual increase for public transport was 5.3%.
Fuel prices increased yet again in September to a new record high. CPI data for September will be published next month.
The food and non-alcoholic beverages product group was the second-largest contributor to the annual inflation rate in August, recording an increase of 6.9%. This is the highest level of food inflation since June 2017 when it was also 6.9%.
However, there are signs that food inflation may have begun to slow, Stats SA said.
The monthly increase in August 2021 was 0.2% – identical to the readings for both July and June. By comparison, the average monthly increase over the past 12 months was 0.6%. Of the 11 food categories, four registered monthly decreases in August, one showed no change and six recorded increases.
Prices for bread and cereal products declined by 0.5% from July 2021. Maize meal prices decreased by 1.2% and white bread by 1.1%. The annual increase for this category was 3.5%.
Meat inflation continues to accelerate, reaching 10.7% in August. This is the highest level since February 2018 when the rate was 11.4%. IQF (individually quick frozen) chicken products were 1.6% more expensive in August compared with July, while minced beef was 0.4% cheaper.
Annual inflation for oils & fats registered at 21.3% in August, slightly down from 22.4% in July. Cooking oil prices dipped by 0.4% and margarine by 0.8% month-on-month.