These food prices have shot up over 60% in South Africa

 ·6 Feb 2024

The prices of several food items often found in shopping baskets across all income brackets have increased by over 60% in the last six years – with some even doubling inflation over the same period.

This is shown by The Outlier’s new tool, which is currently tracking the price of 11 items found in South Africa’s essential basket of food items using Stat SA’s data dating back to 2017.

According to the data, the price of six of the 11 food items increased well over 60% over the six-year period – almost doubling that of inflation over the same period.

According to – a worldwide inflation data platform – South Africa’s Consumer Price Inflation (CPI) has been around 34% since 2017.

This means the top three items – potatoes, eggs, and instant coffee – more than doubled inflation, while others like sugar, tomatoes, and rice where close to doing the same.

The 11 food items analysed are shown in the table below, including their prices in 2017 and 2023, as well as the percentage change in price over the period.

Food item2017 price2023 price% change
Potato (per kg)R12.51R22.46+79.53%
Eggs (18-pack)R37.17R68.49+79.43%
Instant coffee (250g)R34.83R58.55+68.10%
White sugar (2.5kg)R37.18R61.64+65.78%
Tomatoes (per kg)R16.04R26.22+63.46%
Rice (1kg)R18.65R30.07+61.23%
Spaghetti (500g)R13.15R19.73+50.03%
Whole chicken (per kg)R43.69R65.39+49.66%
Beef mince (per kg)R71.34R104.37+46.30%
White bread (700g) R13.41R18.50+38.63%
Full cream milk (2L)R26.06R34.92+34.00%

Notably, the food items that have seen the steepest increases since 2017 have also seen a double-digit increase compared to just one year ago.

According to Stats SA’s latest data, potatoes increased by a whopping 51.9% as of December 2023 compared to 2022. This was followed by eggs (38%), sugar (24.6%), and rice (19.9%).

If you look at a more expensive comparison of food prices – such as the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity group (PMBEJD) data – you’ll find dozens of other items have seen a significant increase in price compared to CPI.

The PMBEJD’s basket comprises 44 food items that most households in South Africa would purchase in a typical month. While this reflects a lower-income basket, this is what the majority of households would look at.

Across the 44 food items tracked by the group, only four came down in price, year-on-year, with Onions (-27%) and Cooking oil (-15%) seeing the largest price drops. The balance (40 items) went up.

24 food items saw double-digit growth year-on-year, reflecting significant increases – and nine were over 20%.

In contrast, these increases are higher than the latest recorded CPI for food, which came in at 5.1% in December 2023 from 5.5% in November and 5.9% in October.

Read: Good news for braai lovers in South Africa

Show comments
Subscribe to our daily newsletter