R2,280 pain for South African households

 ·3 Jun 2024

Since pre-Covid May 2019, South Africans are now paying an estimated R2,280 more for a basket of grocery items as of May 2024.

This is according to the price comparison of the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity Group (PMBEJD) Food Affordability Index over the past five years.

PMBEJD’s Household Food Affordability Index examines 44 food prices collected directly by data collectors from the shelves of 47 supermarkets and 32 butcheries that cater to the low-income market most frequented by the people in the areas where they live.

The basket looks at and compares the average food prices in Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, Springbok, Maritzburg, and Mtubatuba.

The PMBEJD’s May 2024 Household Affordability Index showed that the average cost of a household food basket is currently R5,330.30.

This is an R258.70 increase from one year ago (May 2023) but an R6.01 decrease from April 2024.

However, compared to 2019, the cost difference increased to R2,279.19, with the basket costing R3051.11 in May 2019.

While dozens of food items have seen price increases of over 50%, there are seven items that more than doubled in price (>100%). These items are:

  • Rice +120%
  • Sugar beans +164%
  • Samp +115%
  • Onions +145%
  • Tomatoes +150%
  • Spinach +122%
  • Apples +190%

Over the past month, rice and sugar beans have increased by over 30%, while other items such as eggs, sugar, peanut butter, and fruits such as oranges have seen increases of over 20%.

Inflation data from Stats SA for April 2024 showed that sharp price increases were recorded for rice, with annual rice inflation accelerating to 26.4%—the highest reading since May 2009 when the rate was 41.9%.

According to data from Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), sales at general retailers, which represent the retail trade of food and beverage products at non-specialised stores, declined by 2.2% in 2023 when adjusted for inflation.

However, consultancy firm PwC noted that considering population growth of an estimated 1.0% during the year, the volume of food and beverages sold per capita at grocery stores and supermarkets declined by 3.2% in 2023.

PwC warned that while real income growth is expected to be marginally positive this year, pressure on food prices has increased.

Southern Africa had its driest February this year in more than four decades, with a study by World Weather Attribution finding that this was mainly caused by El Niño rather than human-caused climate change.

The prolonged drought led to a shortage of water and reduced crop yields in the region, which is expected to continue to put pressure on food inflation in the second half of 2024 and into 2025.

Read: Braai Price War: Checkers vs Pick n Pay vs Woolworths vs Spar

Show comments
Subscribe to our daily newsletter