How much more you’re paying for food in South Africa

While South Africans are bracing themselves for rising food prices in 2016, the impact of tough economic conditions can already be seen at the till.

In August 2015, BusinessTech looked at food prices from South Africa’s four biggest grocery stores.

Read: Price war: Woolworths vs Spar vs Pick n Pay vs Checkers

Looking at food prices today, we can see just how much prices have increased in the past six months.

The BusinessTech basket

Apples (1.5kg); Cabbage (one head); Coca Cola (2 litres); Eggs (6, extra large); Flour (self-raising, 2.5kg); Maize (white, 2.5kg); Margarine (500g spread); Milk (full-cream, 2 litres); Rice (white, par-boiled, 2kg); and Sugar (white, 2.5kg).

The average basket – containing 10 food items such as apples, cabbage, maize, milk and eggs – would have cost between R187 and R224 in August, depending on where you shop.

The same basket today costs between R214 and R240 (7% – 14% more).

The average basket of food is now over 10% more than it was six months ago, due in large part to a big hike in fruit and vegetable prices and the cost of eggs and rice.

Food price changes

Note: A significant decrease in milk price at one of the SA stores led to an overall decrease in the overall average price of milk.

Basket price changes

The sky is the limit

A food basket survey published by the Markets and Economic Research Centre (MERC) showed that food prices in South Africa have increased 8.7% between December 2014 and December 2015 – exceeding the inflation rates of the consumer price index (CPI).

According to AgriSA, white maize prices have increased by 150% over the past 12 months, with yellow maize prices up by 80%.

The barometer measuring the basic food basket (which contains basic food items in bulk) has increased by R149 since November, the City Press reported.

Food price changes (City Press)
Food price changes (City Press)

Earlier economic projections in January predicted that food prices in the country would likely shoot up by another 10% by the middle of 2016 (hitting 25% higher by April 2017).

AgriSA says food prices will be 15% higher by the end of 2016, affecting the poorest of the poor – who spend up to 40% of total income on food – the hardest.

South Africa’s staple foods have been hit by a major drought in the country, which has forced the government to import vital foods at greater cost.

While recent rainfall has given local farmers a bit of a reprieve, much more is needed to drop the amount of grain we need to import from 4 million tonnes.

On top of rising food costs, South Africans sit with higher water tariffs, increased rates, over-indebtedness and a potential 17% increase in electricity prices.

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How much more you’re paying for food in South Africa