Food price shocker: these grocery items are now way more expensive in South Africa

 ·29 Jun 2022

The latest Household Affordability Index by the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity group (PMBEJD) shows that food prices continued to soar at the mid-year point in South Africa.

The group recorded its Household Food Basket at R4,688.81 in June 2022. Month-on-month, the average cost of the basket increased by R78.92 (+1.7%), from R4,609.89 in May 2022.

Year on year, the basket is up by R560.57 (+13.6%), from R4,128.33 in June 2021.

The year-on-year increase outstrips headline inflation by quite a big margin, and even food inflation tracked by Stats SA. Inflation was recorded at 6.5% in May 2022, up from 5.9% in April 2022 – the highest reading since January 2017.

Food inflation, meanwhile, was tracked at 7.8%.

The PMBEJD said that all the local and global factors driving food prices upwards continued in June, and are likely to continue adding pressure for the rest of the year.

“Locally, the severe disruptions on our major transport routes, particularly between Gauteng and Durban have impacted food transportation – blockages, protests, bad road, accidents. Much higher commodity prices, production and logistical costs will continue to drive prices upwards and are likely to continue rising for the rest of 2022,” it said.

Independent economist Elize Kruger also warned that the sources of higher inflation – specifically higher food and fuel prices – are still in a relentless upward trend, driven to a large extent by the impact of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and unlikely to abate in the short term.

“Consumers will have to brace themselves for an average headline CPI of around 7% in the second half of 2022, which will further erode purchasing power. As such, more declines in average real salaries can be expected in coming months,” she said.

The PMBEJD warned that the escalation of food inflation on basic staple foods – one which households cannot absorb, and with no apparent relief, at least in the near-term – raises red flags. It said that households face increased hunger, which increases the risk of social instability, and health deterioration.

In July, public transport fares are set to increase, including the cost of transporting children to school, and the annual electricity tariff hikes come into effect. Food price inflation is likely to continue to rise, the group said.

Food prices

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 one food items saw a significant price drop – rice – with three other items virtually unchanged. The remaining 40 items in the basket saw a price jump – 26 of which were above 10%.

These were the most significant changes, where prices increased or declined by 10% or more.

  • Cooking oil: +69%
  • Spinach: +39%
  • Cake flour: +24%
  • Chicken livers: +24%
  • Cremora: +23%
  • Cabbage: +22%
  • Butternut: +21%
  • Beef liver: +18%
  • Beef: +18%
  • Samp: +18%
  • Polony: +17%
  • Onions: +16%
  • Wors: +15%
  • Green pepper: +15%
  • Inyama yangaphakathi: +15%
  • Brown bread: +15%
  • Frozen chicken portions: +14%
  • Eggs: +14%
  • White bread: +14%
  • Canned beans: +14%
  • Tinned pilchards: +13%
  • Margarine: +12%
  • Maize meal: +11%
  • Bananas: +11%
  • Fish: +11%
  • Apricot jam: +11%

Food prices June 2021 to June 2022 – big changes

Month-to-month changes are generally more marginal, but a few items saw big changes. Overall,

Food prices May 2022 to June 2022 – big changes

  • Cooking oil: +13%
  • Green pepper: +10%
  • Carrots: -12%
  • Oranges: -18%

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 R122.65 (2.7%), and R532.85 (12.6%) year-on-year, to R4,749.16 in June 2022.
  • The Durban basket increased by R73.19 (1.6%) and R687.74 (16.8%) year-on-year, to R4,782.78 in June 2022.
  • The Cape Town basket increased by R46.32 (1.0%) and R470.81 (11.7%) year-on-year, to R4,490.84 in June 2022.
  • The Springbok basket increased by R119.09 (2.4%) and increased by R517.58 (11.4%) year-on-year, to R5 046.45 in June 2022.
  • The Maritzburg basket increased by R138.56 (3.1%) and R649.89 (16.4%) year-on-year, to R4,602.52 in June 2022.

Read: The average take-home pay in South Africa right now

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