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How much it costs to feed a family in South Africa each month

How much it costs to feed a family in South Africa each month

Data from the Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action (Pacsa) shows that food prices continue to climb in South Africa, with households struggling to keep up.

The Pacsa food price inflation basket tracks the affordability of food and other essential household requirements for working class households, in a context of low wages, social grants and high levels of unemployment.

The basket itself is not nutritionally complete, rather reflecting on the reality of what the working class in South Africa can afford. A second basket, which is nutritionally complete, is also included to further highlight the disparity between what people need and what they can afford.

The Pacsa food basket of 36 basic foods showed a 10% increase or R198.96 over the past year to R2,068.35 in March 2017.

The social action group argues that the R3,500 proposed National Minimum wage, when dispersed through a family of 4 people is R875 per person – below the current upper bound poverty line of R1,077 per month.

For Black South African households, the food basket for a family of 4 people (R2,562.38) would take up 73% of the R3,500 proposed national minimum wage.

In March 2017, the difference in cost between a food basket (not nutritionally complete) versus one that is nutritionally complete is R2,412.41 (R2,068.35 vs R4,480.76), Pacsa said.

This, it continued, has implications for health and well-being because there is a direct connection between the food we eat and how our bodies function.

Monthly costs of a food basket for families of various sizes, ages and life stages for March

In March 2017 the cost of a food basket for a family of 4 is R2,562.38, for a family of 5 is R3,237.08 and for a family of 7 is R4,480.76.

Inflation on the Pacsa Minimum Nutritional Food Basket for families of between 4-7 members is 6% year-on-year.

In March 2017 the cost of feeding a small child (aged 3-9 years) a diet complete in minimum nutrition is R578.45 per month, Pacsa said.

The cost of feeding a girl/boy child (aged 10-13 years) or an adult woman (aged 19-64 years) or an elderly woman (aged >65 years) a diet complete in minimum nutrition is R6,26.57 per month.

Monthly costs of a food basket showing prices over the last three months; month-on-month; and year-on-year

The cost of feeding a girl (aged 14-18 years) or a very active woman (aged 19-64 years) or an adult man (aged 19-64 years) or an elderly man (aged >65 years) a diet complete in minimum nutrition is R6,65.24per month.

The cost of feeding a boy (aged 14-18 years) or a very active man (aged 19-64 years) or a pregnant or lactating woman a diet complete in minimum nutrition is R7,40.25 per month, Pacsa said.

Income and expenditure for households of various socio-economic scenarios: March 2017

Read: Food prices in South Africa: 2016 vs 2017


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  • Nit Wit

    This research is flawed.
    Why is the household size 5 people? Mine is 4 and it would have been 3 if I couldn’t have afforded another child.
    Funeral policies and cultural obligations (R550) are luxuries – not even I have them so why are they included?

    • John Phoenix

      Consider that you represent 1 family, the stats have a wider scope than you or even your extended family. And honestly, funeral policies, stokvel and cultural payments are Very common.

      • Thomas Edison

        Yep, it’s very common to pay for things you cannot afford – That is why the government’s dept 50% of GDP.

        No economic freedom if you do not understand basic economics;

    • OWL

      “stokvels” are saving schemes, my helper has expanded her RDP home significantly, through what she saved.

    • Comrate

      Funeral policy is not a luxury, what will you do when the family member dies?
      leave them at the mortuary? you need at least R7000 for a basic funeral service…Coffin , Fridge and transport

      Not sure what that Culture Obligations mean….

      Consider Stokvel as a Savings Account, which can give you an interest free loan.

      • Bob

        Large funerals are a cultural obligation as well. And it’s absolutely a luxury. Do some research into it. I personally think it’s misguided, but it’s not my culture, and that it creates a stream of revenue for insurance companies to exploit. My cleaning lady was having the same rant about the practice a few months ago, stating that why should she have a funeral policy in order to have a big funeral to impress others when she can rather spend that money on her son’s tertiary education. She’s a smart lady, and her son is an intelligent chap in his third year of a programming course. As a result, if she dies, she’s getting a small ceremony and a cremation, instead of 500 people having a 3 day ceremony with cows being slaughtered.

        • Comrate

          Large funerals ( R15 000 and above ) are a stupid custom, …. they are not culture, Black people, are suppose to wrap the body in a cow/goat hide, ( after slaughtering the cow or goat) secretly bury the dead person at dawn, with only family and close neighbors, the neighbors each bring bucket of Maize meal, jar of beans and whatever else for catering.

          The “custom” funerals that cost up to R100k are a luxury, we buried my uncle in 2011, and the funeral cost R60 000..ridiculous….Metal Casket, Marquee, fleet of BMW’s…Buffet etc ..
          The reason a cow was slaughtered back in the days, it was to use the skin to cover the dead person.

          Your cleaning lady might want cremation, but I doubt the “uncles” and “elders” will agree, they will probably coerce the son to pay for the expensive funeral, reason will be “your mother raised you”….

          • Bob

            Custom, culture, semantics. Means the same thing really if the practice has become wide spread. The massive advertising by insurance agencies for funeral cover is specifically targeted at the demographic who partake in this custom because it is so common now. The problem as has been explained to me, is that everyone needs to be invited as a show of wealth and status, not just close family and friends. And this is what exacerbates the costs.

            I’m not judging, each to their own. It just really seems like a luxury expense that is exploited by insurance companies. An expense that when R200 is a significant percentage of your income could be dropped in favour of something better, like education or savings that earn dividends.

          • Mo Haarhoff

            The funeral parlours also make a killing (pun intended) on fancy coffins and the ceremony.

          • Agreed.

          • Mo Haarhoff

            And if she states it in her will?

          • Comrate

            unless anyone stands to benefit, chances are no one will enforce the will…

      • Mo Haarhoff

        To my knowledge, funeral expenses can be deducted from the estate.

        • Comrate

          but how long does it take to wound up the estate? not practical…..

    • Deal_with__it

      My household is two people. Did you think that your special case should be the basis of the research? And if not it is flawed? Lol. My case is more importanter. Your logic is flawed.

    • Deal_with__it

      jeez – when you can’t understand the concept of an example scenario and why it might not be exactly matching to you…

  • Joe Black

    Well with increased economic woes the ONLY possible result will be even more expensive basics as has been shown time and time again. Stability is the only way SA’s poor will stay afloat, and the only way to prevent more citizens sliding into poverty.

    And with what happened in recent weeks there is a very real chance that this time next year we will see a 30%+ increase in these costs. Who knows? +100%, +200%?

    Btw… I’d like to see Zuma pronounce “R6,65.24″ and” R7,40.25″, because I am not at all certain how to do it.

    • Paul Goodwill


    • Sipho Cebo Nhlanzi

      yes we have problems in country but 100 or 200% ? I don’t think so

      • Joe Black

        Meh… Hyperbole I suppose. Who really knows these days though. They do things for reasons that does not make sense.

    • Nofearorfavor

      Deliberate confusion?

    • Honda

      Very difficult to pronounce because incorrectly written the comma should only be used after thousands and not hundreds. Better still just use a space after thousands because commas and decimal points get mixed up in SA.

      • Joe Black

        I know lol. That part was added as humour 🙂

  • OWL

    This before the next round of Cadre-enrichment-games hit EksCon.

  • RodneyVikens

    “R6,26.57” – six rand, twenty six cents and fifty seven mini cents.

    • Wacky

      mickey mouse money

    • Cape Computer Club

      Best thing I read all day. Did Zuma write this report?

  • Profitfromdoom

    “For Black South African households, the food basket for a family of 4 people (R2,562.38) would take up 73% of the R3,500 proposed national minimum wage”
    Why the race card?

    • Comrate

      drives the point home….whatever the point is.
      Its a South African thing…..race gets attention

  • Wurnman

    Or people can start the reduction of baby making …

    • tiredofthis$#!7

      Snip Snip after 1st child for both the male and the female.

      Yes yes, I know, I can hear everyone screaming it is a “human right” to procreate. But let me argue that it is more than a “human right” for the human race to have a planet to survive on. And over population is not helping there.

    • Warren

      Agree 100%. Adults who cant look after themselves should not be having children.

  • Karl Benz

    what is cultural obligations?

    • Comrate

      money you pay for culture, once you are obligated to pay it

  • Selwyn

    Funerals are a custom or religious custom. Muslims and Jews use a shroud (burial cloth) or an untreated wood coffin with no or rope handles. It is the cheapest form of burial as well and is part of the biblical dust to dust requirement.These funerals also get expensive with elaborate tomb stones and fancy ‘family teas’– all the the way to elaborate meals!!

    However, has no one noticed that since Gordhan’s dismissal, and our Junk status, how the price of food has shot up. Carrots, R5-00 to about R7-00, cauliflower, R12-00 to about R18-00, apples from R18-00 to R24-00 etc. Avos –through the roof!!!!!
    Yes! some will see a small variations, but the message is there. It is Cucc en betaal!!
    I do feel sorry for the poorer folk but I look to Zuma ,his cronies ,our countries’ financial losses . huge money wastage an patronage. EG Chlaudi Motswaneng–suspended– sitting at home on a R350,000 PER MONTH wage. That is over R11,000 per day.– YUP, PER DAY!!!! E-L-E V-E-N T-H-O-U-S-A-N-D R-A-N-D!!
    ZUMA IF YOU CANT READ THIS RESIGN AND TAKE YOUR CRONIES WITH YOU. Show that to the poor and destitute and stop talking about Monopoly Capital, Colonial Manipulation or what ever crap is the flavour of the day.

    • Lebaker

      Bull dust, Stop shopping at Woolies if you ain’t got the money for it. FULLSTOP!!

      • Selwyn

        sorry to upset you Mr L!!!!. I DON’T shop at Woolworths. I do checkers, shoprite and even the street vendors and as I said: there are small variations –so look at it broad mindedly or go ask mr motswaneng how to fix things i bet you don’t earn R11,000-00 PER DAY!!!

        • Lebaker

          I will reserve my comments regarding earnings.. Have a good weekend!

        • Nofearorfavor

          You are correct–!! Unfortunately.

      • John Phoenix

        Try your local fruit and veg supplier (in/formal) and a butchery/meat wholesaler, basically buy as close to the source as possible, it’s saves a fair amount.

  • Colin Edwards

    Would someone please explain these amount to me. The cost of feeding a girl/boy child (aged 10-13 years) or an adult woman (aged 19-64 years) or an elderly woman (aged >65 years) a diet complete in minimum nutrition is R6,26.57 per month. Is this meant to be R626.57?

    • Johan Lewis Last

      Let us hope so because feeding someone R 6260.57 worth of food will make them fat

  • Barry

    This is a bunch of [email protected]!! WTF! Does it mean when they say black family? Are they referring to poor people? I do not get it. Yes food is expensive. Also how do you set a freaking range? 13 – 18 or 21 – 64. Bunch of idiots!! Food is expensive…DONE!!!

    Stop talking about it and do something about it.

    How many people could you have fed with all that money you spent putting the [email protected] together?

    Damn! This country is so screwed.

    • RodneyVikens

      Definitely not poor people. Majority of poor is black, but a poor white family will also be poor. Some of my friends live on R500p/m for a family of 3 or more. That is poor.

  • Marc Eden

    I would love to know what planet these people live. What method do they use to come to these figures. R 2562 for a family of 4 per month. That is R 85 per day divided by 4 people R 21 I would love to know how any person can survive on this amount.
    The minimum any person needs for a single person is R 200 per day just for food. For a family of 4 that is R 800 per day x 30 days R 24.000 per month.
    I work in the catering industry and i constantly need to monitor the cost of food.

    • RodneyVikens

      On what planet do you live. One where everyone is obese? R200 p/p per day?
      My wife and I spend max. R70 a day average for both of us (at the moment). It might have to increase to R80 soon. R200 p/p? pffft…

      • Marc Eden

        So what you are saying to me is that you are spending R 35 per person per day. Please do enlighten me what you can buy for R 35.00 A few packets of 2 min noodles and a loaf of bread.

        • That’s not ‘food’!

        • Not your name

          6 samosa’s at the take away.

    • Hacksack

      R200 per person per day?. Meal for two at night from Woolworths is about R170 for two people.

      This breakfast and lunch thing is for fat people. Not needed. Can do fine on one or two meals a day. One big meal dinner and maybe a snack during the day.

      • Johan Lewis Last

        Yup, probably why the government has implemented the Sugar Tax….people eating at R200.00 per day…probably junk food anyways.

      • Marc Eden

        This breakfast lunch thing is for fat people. I wont even bother responding.I weight 65kgs. Its not about how many meals you eat a day, its about what you eat. How much do you spend on petrol to go to Woolworths to buy your food.I take it you dont have growing children. Have you ever considered why there is such a huge problem with starvation all over the world. Because 60% of the world cannot afford even the most basics.

  • Sorry I don’t believe the official inflation figure. I believe ‘actual experience’ would put beyond 10% for home owners of middle+ class !

  • Not your name

    Sorry but I can only shake my head in wonder at the stupidity of all this. If you only have 3500 to spend in a family of 4 why do you have 3 children and where is the father? Surely the 350 cultural spend can take a back seat to nutrition. Bringing up 3 or note kids in these circumstance dooms them to the same fate. Instead of blaming whites how about crossing your legs? Sorry if this hurts your feelings but grow up and admit you are to blame and not society, stop being a leach.

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