The latest Household Affordability Index by the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity group (PMBEJD) shows that food prices increased in August – and basket prices over the last 12 months have risen by 10%, far outpacing headline inflation.
The civil society initiative found that its household food basket recorded a slight increase in price month-on-month, and remains at much higher levels than September 2020, when the basket was first compiled.
The basket was tracked at R103.69 (2.5%) more expensive than a month ago (July) at R4,241.11. Over the past 12 months, the cost of the average basket price increased by 10% or R385. Headline inflation over the same period was much lower, tracking between 3% and 5%.
The basket comprises 44 core food items most frequently purchased by lower-income households, who make up most households in the country. Only six of the 44 foods came down in price; 5 foods had zero change, and 33 foods increased.
These were the most significant changes, where prices increased or declined by 10% or more.
July 2021 – August 2021 big changes:
- Carrots: +17%
- Butternut: +17%
- Stock cubes: +13%
- Oranges: +12%
- Wors: +10%
September 2020 – August 2021 big changes:
- Sugar beans: +49%
- Gizzards: +35%
- Cooking oil: +31%
- Beef liver: +23%
- Beef: +23%
- Potatoes: +21%
- Eggs: +18%
- Wors: +18%
- Butternut: +18%
- Carrots: +17%
- Samp: +16%
- Margarine: +16%
- Apricot jam: +15%
- Maize meal: +13%
- Chicken livers: +12%
- Fish: +12%
- Peanut butter: +12%
- Tomatoes: +12%
- Frozen chicken portions: +10%
- White sugar: +10%
- Inyama yangaphakathi: +10%
- Oranges: -42%
Food prices were significantly impacted by the unrest and rioting experienced in Duban, Johannesburg and Pietermaritzburg in July, the PMBEJD said.
The unrest and destruction left supermarkets and butcheries destroyed, while Cape Town also experienced disruption due to ongoing taxi violence, which restricted access to some supermarkets and butcheries.
The group said that the unrest resulted in shoppers travelling further and waiting in long queues to purchase the basics, adding pressure to already tight budgets. Meanwhile, this all took place during a time of heightened stress, anxiety and safety concerns around Covid-19.
“August 2021 has seen massive hikes in the household food baskets of Joburg, Durban and Pietermaritzburg, where most of the unrest was located.
“This is linked to the two weeks in July and the severe disruption of transportation routes, burning of trucks on the highways, closed off roads, looting and destruction of supermarkets and other shops, processing and packaging houses, ports, and disruption of agricultural activities,” it said.