Prices for these foods in South Africa have shot up over 20%

 ·29 Apr 2023

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 April 2023, the average cost of the Household Food Basket hit over R5,000 for the first time, at R5,023.95.

Month-on-month, the average cost of the basket increased by R57.75 (1.2%) from R4,966.20 in March 2023.

However, year-on-year, the average cost of the basket increased by R481.02 (10.6%).

This increase outstripped headline inflation for February but came in lower than food inflation. Headline inflation was recorded at 7.1% YoY in March, slightly up from 7.0% YoY in February and against market expectations of a move back down 6.9%.

Inflation for food & non-alcoholic beverages continued to accelerate in March, with prices increasing by 14.0%. This represents the largest annual increase since the 14.7% rise in March 2009 (14 years ago).

In March, milk, eggs & cheese; sugar, sweets & desserts; fruit and vegetables; and the product category ‘other food products’ experienced upward inflationary pressure. The milk, eggs & cheese product group witnessed its annual rate reaching 13.6% from the recent low of 3.7% in April 2022.

The reading in March is the highest annual increase since February 2009’s print of 13.9%.

Bread & cereals, meat, oils & fats, and fish bucked the trend, recording slower growth. The annual increase for bread & cereals was 20.3% in March, down from 20.5% in February. Meat inflation edged lower to 10.6% from 11.4% in February.

Prices of oils & fats decreased for a seventh successive month, dragging the annual rate to 16.0% from 16.7%.

These trends are broadly reflected in the PMBEJD data.

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 six items showed a price drop between April 2022 and April 2023. Only oranges showed a significant (>10%) drop in price. One item – polony – remained virtually unchanged in price.

The other 37 items in the basket all saw a price jump – 22 of which were 10% or more. There were 10 items, however, which saw significant price increases over 20%:

  • Onions: +82%
  • Green pepper: +43%
  • Potatoes: +33%
  • Carrots: 27%
  • Maize meal: +25%
  • Samp: +23%
  • Tomatoes: +23%
  • Cabbage: +21%
  • Cake flour: +20%
  • Stock cubes: +20%

Regionally, in April 2023, food baskets decreased in Springbok and Mtubatuba. Food baskets increased marginally in Joburg and Durban, whilst increases in Cape Town and Pietermaritzburg were much higher.

  • The Joburg basket increased by R0.86 (0.0%) MoM, and increased by R457.98 (10.0%) YoY, to R5,021.07.
  • The Durban basket increased by R9.26 (0.2%) MoM, and increased by R297.62 (6.5%) YoY, to R4,880.67.
  • The Cape Town basket increased by R162.08 (3.3%) MoM, and increased by R659.43 (14.9%) YoY, to R5,089.85.
  • The Springbok basket decreased by R92.52 (-1.7%) MoM, and increased by R377.50 (7.6%) YoY, to R5,337.51.
  • The Maritzburg basket increased by R77.19 (1.6%) MoM, and increased by R633.72 (14.6%) YoY, to R4,969.54.
  • The Mtubatuba basket decreased by R6.57 (-0.1%)MoM, and increased by R516.05 (11.2%) YoY, to R5,143.81.

Read: Nasty inflation shock for South Africa as food prices kick higher

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