The latest Household Affordability Index by the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity group (PMBEJD) shows that food prices in South Africa continued to rise in February 2023.
The average cost of the PMBEJD’s Household Food Basket was R4,928.34 – this was up R10.91 (0.2%), from R4,917.42 in January 2023, and up R572.64 (13.1%), from R4,355.70 in February 2022.
The year-on-year increase outstrips headline inflation by quite a considerable margin, and came in slightly lower than food inflation. Headline inflation was recorded at 6.9% in January, down marginally from 7.2% in December 2022.
Food and non-alcoholic beverages inflation tracked at 13.4% year-on-year.
According to Stats SA, food inflation is being driven by bread and cereal products, with the annual rate reaching 21.8% in January. This is markedly higher than the low of 1.5% recorded in January 2022. In fact, this reading is the highest since February 2009 (23.8%).
Bread & cereal products that recorded notable monthly increases in January include pastry products (pizzas and pies), which increased by 3,6%, maize (up 3.1%), and brown bread (up 1.3%).
Meat inflation increased to 11.2% in January from December’s 9.7%. Individually quick frozen (IQF) chicken portions, the highest-weighted meat product, witnessed a monthly price increase of 2.7% between December and January.
Other meat products that recorded significant monthly price increases include fresh chicken portions (up 5.3%), beef offal (up 5.2%), and stewing beef (up 3.6%). Bacon recorded an annual rate of 19.4%.
Annual fish inflation quickened to 13.0% from 10.4% in December. This is the highest annual inflation rate for fish since May 2009 when it was 14.2%.
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 comprise most households in the country.
In the basket, only two items showed a price drop between February 2022 and February 2023. Only oranges showed a significant (>10%) drop in prices, while the other item – sugar beans – remained virtually unchanged in price.
The other 38 items in the basket all saw a price jump – 18 of which were above 10%.
These are the 18 food items that have seen the most significant price increases year on year:
- Onions: +75%
- Potatoes: +41%
- Green pepper: +34%
- Samp: +32%
- Cabbage: +29%
- Cake flour: +28%
- Maize meal: +28%
- Spinach: +24%
- Cooking oil: +22%
- Carrots: +20%
- Stock cubes: +20%
- Brown bread: +18%
- Chicken feet: +18%
- White bread: +18%
- Butternut: +17%
- Apricot jam: +14%
- Fish: +13%
- Canned beans: +12%
Regionally, in February 2023, food baskets decreased in Durban, Cape Town, and Pietermaritzburg, while prices increased in Joburg and Springbok.
- The Joburg basket increased by R50,13 (1,0%) month-on-month, and increased by R512,82 (11,6%) year-on-year to R4 923,41 in February 2023.
- The Durban basket decreased by R6,39 (-0,1%) month-on-month, and increased by R540,03 (12,2%) year-on-year to R4 968,59 in February 2023.
- The Cape Town basket decreased by R6,02 (-0,1%) month-on-month, and increased by R739,30 (17,6%) year-on-year to R4 942,45 in February 2023.
- The Springbok basket increased by R278,48 (5,8%) month-on-month, and increased by R484,84 (10,6%) year-on-year to R5 055,61 in February 2023.
- The Maritzburg basket decreased by R99,21 (-2,0%) month-on-month, and increased by R566,19 (13,5%) year-on-year to R4 751,76 in February 2023.