The latest Household Affordability Index by the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity group (PMBEJD) shows that food prices in South Africa remain stubbornly high, with warnings that the pressure at the tills will linger for longer.
For March 2023, the average cost of the Household Food Basket is R4,966.20. Month-on-month, the average cost of the basket increased by R37.87 (0.8%) from R4,928.34 in February 2023.
However, year-on-year, the average cost of the basket increased by R516.12 (11.6%).
This increase outstripped headline inflation for February but came in lower than food inflation. Headline inflation was recorded at 7% YoY in February, slightly up from 6.9% YoY in January and against market expectations of 6.9%.
Food and non-alcoholic beverage (NAB) inflation has rocketed to a 14-year high at 13.6% in February – more than double the upper inflation target limit, contributing 2.3% to headline inflation.
According to Momentum, the two most considerable price pressures come from bread & cereals and meat inflation. Bread & cereals recorded the highest rate of 21.8% in February, while meat inflation rose to 11.2%.
This meant that the contribution from bread and cereals to headline inflation increased the most, from 0.05% in January 2022 to 0.65% in February 2023, followed by the meat category, increasing from a contribution of 0.45% to 0.62% over the same period.
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 three items showed a price drop between March 2022 and March 2023. Only oranges showed a significant (>10%) drop in price. One item – sugar beans – remained virtually unchanged in price.
The other 38 items in the basket all saw a price jump – 24 of which were 10% or more.
These are the 24 food items that have seen the most significant price increases year on year:
- Onions: +67%
- Potatoes: +52%
- Carrots: +30%
- Green pepper: +30%
- Maize meal: +26%
- Samp: +24%
- Cabbage: +22%
- Cake flour: +20%
- Stock cubes: +19%
- Brown bread: +17%
- White bread: +17%
- Cooking oil: +16%
- Spinach: +15%
- Tomatoes: +14%
- Canned beans: +12%
- Full cream milk: +12%
- Tinned pilchards: +12%
- Chicken feet: +11%
- Curry powder: +10%
- Maas: +10%
- Wors: +10%
- Gizzards: +10%
- Fish: +10%
- Apricot jam: +10%
In March 2023, food baskets decreased month-on-month in Durban and Cape Town, while food baskets increased in Joburg, Springbok, and Maritzburg.
- The Joburg basket increased by R96,80 (2,0%) month-on-month and increased by R522,98 (11,6%) year-on-year to R5 020,21 in March 2023.
- The Durban basket decreased by R97,19 (-2,0%) month-on-month and increased by R426,62 (9,6%) year-on-year to R4 871,40 in March 2023.
- The Cape Town basket decreased by R14,68 (-0,3%) month-on-month and increased by R573,25 (13,2%) year-on-year to R4 927,77 in March 2023.
- The Springbok basket increased by R374,42 (7,4%) month-on-month and increased by R695,39 (14,7%) year-on-year to R5 430,03 in March 2023.
- The Maritzburg basket increased by R140,59 (3,0%) month-on-month and increased by R654,84 (15,5%) year-on-year to R4 892,35 in March 2023.