South Africans are forking out nearly 5% more for basic food items

Suthentira Govender Senior reporter
South Africans, who are struggling to keep their heads above water, are forking out more for a basic food basket compared to seven months ago.
South Africans, who are struggling to keep their heads above water, are forking out more for a basic food basket compared to seven months ago.
Image: Khaya Ngwenya

South Africans are paying nearly 5% more for a basic food basket compared to seven months ago.

This is according to the latest Household Affordability Index, compiled by the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity Group, which tracks food prices in 44 supermarkets and 30 in Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, Pietermaritzburg and Springbok.

Key data shows:

  • in March 2021, the average cost of the household food basket is R4,039,56;
  • month-on-month (between February 2021 and March 2021), the average cost of the household food basket increased by R38,39.
  • over the past seven months the average cost of the household food basket increased by R183,22 (4,8%), from R3,856,34 in September 2020 to R4,039,56 in March 2021.

“The average increase over the past seven months stands at 4,8% or R183,22 in March 2021. In comparison, the national minimum wage (NMW) was increased by 4,5%, with a monthly rand value increase of R163,68 in March 2021.

“The higher NMW still falls far short of anything close to a living wage, and workers will continue to sacrifice nutrition and take on debt to cover wage shortfalls.

“We expect that this upward trend in food prices is likely to continue,” said the group’s programme co-ordinator Mervyn Abrahams.

He said the R10 increase in the child support grant to R460, which comes into effect in April, was inadequate.

“Our figures from the basic nutritional food basket show the month-on-month increase in the average cost to feed a child a basic nutritious diet per month increased by R12,24. This shows that even before the annual increment of R10 has come in, in March 2021 the cost to feed a child is above the future increment.

“Not ensuring that mothers are able to feed their children properly is a direct form of everyday violence against women and children.

“It is further a direct sabotaging of SA’s education outcomes, our health outcomes, our future social-political outcomes, our future economic outcomes, and any hope to reduce inequality, poverty, and unemployment or put us on a path to recovery.

“We are building a very fragile future on the bellies of millions of hungry children.

“We are now in a situation where South Africans are worse off than they were before March 2020. Jobs continue to be lost. People have less savings, and less money.

“The prices of essential goods and services continue to rise. People will be poorer this year than they were last year. It is unlikely this status quo will change and  we expect that the affordability crisis in households will deteriorate further,” said Abrahams

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