Food prices continue to climb in South Africa – with 19 items seeing a double-digit increase

 ·27 Mar 2024

The latest food basket data from the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity group (PMBEJD) shows that food prices in South Africa continue to climb – with some pantry essentials, fruits, and eggs still showing double-digit hikes.

According to the PMBEJD, its household food basket for March 2024 increased to R5,277.93 – an increase of R311.72 (6.3%) compared to March 2023. Month-on-month, the basket remained relatively unchanged, with a R0.63 increase.

While measuring data a month later than Stats SA’s basket, the 6.3% increase is higher than the latest recorded CPI for food, which came in at 6.1% in February 2024.

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, 16 came down in price, year-on-year, with Onions (-25%) and Samp (-12%) seeing the largest price drops. The balance (28 items) went up.

19 food items saw double-digit growth year-on-year, reflecting significant increases – and seven were over 20%:

  • Oranges +37%
  • Eggs: +36%
  • Rice: +34%
  • Cremora +25%
  • Sugar Beans +24%
  • Apricot jam +21%
  • Curry Powder +21%

According to Stats SA, annual consumer inflation quickened in February, rising to 5.6% from 5.3% in January and 5.1% in December.

The lingering impact of rising egg prices continues to affect the milk, eggs & cheese category, with eggs 30.7% more expensive than a year ago. Although the current average price of a tray of six eggs (R25.48) is down from its peak in December 2023 (R25.85), it is higher than the February 2023 price tag (R21.13).

Annual rice inflation increased further to 25.0% in February from 23.8% in January. A bag of rice (1 kg) would have set you back R31,83 in February, sharply up from R23.54 a year ago.

Pizza & pies – also classified with rice in the bread & cereals category – have seen sharp price increases, too, rising by 17.5% in the 12 months to February.

Not all was bad news in the bread & cereals category, however. Several products are cheaper than a year ago, including bread flour (down 5.7%), rusks (down 2.7%), ready-mix flour (down 2.2%), pasta (down 2.1%) and macaroni (down 0.5%).

Despite these inflation increases, Stats SA added that inflation for food & NAB slowed to 6.1% in February. Most categories recorded lower annual rates, except for hot beverages and oils & fats.

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