The latest Household Affordability Index by the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity group (PMBEJD) shows that food prices continued to climb in May 2022.
The group recorded its Household Food Basket at R4,609.89 in May 2022. Month-on-month, the average cost of the basket increased by R66.96 (1.5%), from R4,542.93 in April 2022.
Year on year, the basket is up by R472.78 (11.4%), from R4,137.11 in May 2021.
The year-on-year increase outstrips headline inflation by quite a large margin, and even food inflation tracked by Stats SA. The latest Consumer Price Index for April 2022 shows that headline inflation is 5.9%, and food inflation was recorded at 6.2%.
According to the PMBEJD, the same factors that have caused the upward trend in prices have run into May, and are likely to keep price pressure up for the remainder of the year.
These factors include Covid-19; the Russia/Ukraine conflict; local climatic disasters such as the recent flooding in Kwa Zulu Natal; and social unrest and general daily protests – which disrupt logistics and production.
“We need to seriously re-think our levels of exposure to global commodity price movements and speculation, and in the long food supply chains, which impact negatively on household food security,” the group said.
“Our over-exposure to global supply lines suggests that we need to build national capacity and reserves as an immediate and long-term mitigation strategy, including investing more in local agricultural input capacity, and smallscale farmers to produce food closer to the table where it is consumed.
“Ensuring household food security is a primary function of government. There is a direct correlation between household food security and societal stability and with increasing household food insecurity the risk of social instability has increased significantly,” it said.
The PMBEJD basket comprises 44 core food items most frequently purchased by lower-income households, who make up most households in the country.
Year on year, only five of these 44 items have come down in price, with one remaining unchanged. The balance – 38 items –have all increased in price over the last 12 months.
These were the most significant changes, where prices increased or declined by 10% or more.
Food prices May 2021 to May 2022 – big changes
- Cooking oil: +53%
- Polony: +36%
- Chicken livers: +32%
- Spinach: +25%
- Beef liver: +22%
- Potatoes: +22%
- Fish: +18%
- Butternut: +18%
- Inyama yangaphakathi: +17%
- Frozen chicken portions: +16%
- Beef: +15%
- Margarine: +15%
- Eggs: +14%
- Cremora: +13%
- Tinned pilchards: +13%
- Oranges: +13%
- Onions: +13%
- Cake flour: +13%
- Gizzards: +12%
- Samp: +12%
- Wors: +11%
- Tea: +10%
- White bread: +10%
- Brown bread: +10%
Month-to-month changes are generally more marginal, but a few items saw big changes. Overall, 23 items increased in price, 10 saw a price drop, and 11 remained flat.
Food prices April 2022 to May 2022 – big changes
- Carrots: +15%
- Cooking oil: +14%
- Potatoes: +11%
- Onions: +10%
- Oranges: -30%
Regionally, the difference in cost of the total household food basket in Joburg, Durban and Cape Town is consistent at around ±R150.
Springbok and Pietermaritzburg tend to be outliers in the data (Springbok being the highest, and Pietermaritzburg being the lowest).
- The Joburg basket increased by R63.43 (1.4%), and R440.88 (10.5%) year-on-year, to R4,626.51 in May 2022.
- The Durban basket increased by R126.54 (2.8%) and R563.53 (13.6%) year-on-year, to R4,709.59 in May 2022.
- The Cape Town basket increased by R14.10 (0.3%) and R400.63 (9.9%) year-on-year, to R4,444.52 in May 2022.
- The Springbok basket decreased by R32.65 (-0.7%) and increased by R372.39 (8.2%) year-on-year, to R4,927.36 in May 2022.
- The Maritzburg basket increased by R128.13 (3.0%) and R509.10 (12.9%) year-on-year, to R4,463.96 in May 2022.