The latest Household Affordability Index by the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity group (PMBEJD) shows that food prices in South Africa continued to shoot up at the start of the year.
In January 2023, the average cost of the PMBEJD’s Household Food Basket was R4,917.42 – this was up R64.25 (1.3%), from R4,853.18 in December 2022, and up R516.40 (11.7%), from R4,401.02 in January 2022.
The year-on-year increase outstrips headline inflation by quite a considerable margin, though it came in lower than food inflation. Headline inflation was recorded at 7.2% in December 2022, down marginally from 7.4% in November 2022.
Food and non-alcoholic beverages inflation as tracked at 12.4% year-on-year, contributing to 2.1 percentage points to the total CPI annual rate.
According to Stats SA, food inflation is being driven by bread and cereal products, with the annual rate reaching 20.6% in December. This is markedly higher than the low of 1.5% recorded in January 2022. In fact, December’s reading is the highest since February 2009 (23.8%).
Maize meal prices rose by 33.7% in the 12 months to December, with a monthly increase of 1.9%. The index for rice increased by 1.3% between November and December, taking its annual rate to 7,8%.
Meat inflation slowed to 9.7% in December from 10.5% in November. Oils and fats inflation cooled for the fourth consecutive month, declining to 22.4% in December.
These trends are broadly reflected in the PMBEJD data, with the highest price inflation figures coming in for items like flour and oil – but some of the most significant increases have been for vegetables like potatoes and onions.
The PMBEJD basket comprises 44 core food items most frequently purchased by lower-income households, who make up most households in the country.
In the basket, only five items showed a price drop between January 2022 and January 2023. Only butternut and oranges showed a significant (>10%) drop in prices. One item – sugar beans – remained virtually unchanged in price.
The other 38 items in the basket all saw a price jump – 22 of which were above 10%
These are the 22 food items that have seen the most significant price increases year on year:
- Onions: +75%
- Cooking oil: +32%
- Potatoes: +30%
- Samp: +29%
- Cake flour: +28%
- Spinach: +24%
- Cabbage: +19%
- Brown bread: +18%
- Carrots: +18%
- White bread: +18%
- Green pepper: +18%
- Canned beans: +17%
- Chicken feet: +17%
- Maize meal: +17%
- Chicken livers: +16%
- Polony: +13%
- Tea: +13%
- Stock cubes: +12%
- Beef: +11%
- Cremora: +11%
- Full cream milk: +11%
- Tinned pilchards: +11%
Regionally, in January 2023, food basket prices decreased in Joburg and Springbok, while prices increased in Durban, Cape Town and Pietermaritzburg.
- The Joburg basket decreased by R3.73 (-0.1%) month-on-month and increased by R439.10 (9.9%) year-on-year to R4,873.28.
- The Durban basket increased by R58.99 (1.2%) month-on-month and increased by R464.27 (10.3%) year-on-year to R4,974.99.
- The Cape Town basket increased by R171.14 (3.6%) month-on-month and increased by R644.49 (15.0%) year-on-year to R4,948.47.
- The Springbok basket decreased by R355.73 (-6.9%) month-on-month and increased by R185.30 (4.0%) year-on-year to R4,777.13.
- The Maritzburg basket increased by R177.67 (3.8%) month-on-month and increased by R597.91 (14.1%) year-on-year to R4,850.97.
The Cape Town basket experienced hikes in maize meal (up 6%) and oil (up 10%), and higher potato, meat and bread prices, the PMBEJD said. The Springbok basket decreased on the back of two supermarkets offering 10kg maize for R49.99 each – an incredible special, along with much lower meat and bread prices.
The Maritzburg basket, meanwhile, has been affected by the rains, which pushed up vegetable prices.