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South Africans are paying nearly 14% more for food than a year ago

Suthentira Govender Senior reporter
Food price hikes have drastically affected quality of life. Stock photo.
Food price hikes have drastically affected quality of life. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/Asawin Klabma

Basic food and personal hygiene items are costing struggling South Africans nearly 14% more than a year ago, prompting fears of increased hunger, social instability and deterioration of health.

The latest Household Affordability Index compiled by the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity Group (PMBEJD) shows the average cost of the goods basket increased by R560.57 (13.6%), from R4,128.23 in June 2021 to R4,688.81 in June 2022.

It tracks food price data from 44 supermarkets and 30 butcheries in Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, Pietermaritzburg and Springbok in the Northern Cape.

“The escalation of food inflation on basic staple foods, one which households cannot absorb and one where no apparent relief is forthcoming, at least in the near-term, is a major concern,” said Mervyn Abrahams of the PMBEJD.

Significant increases:

Cooking oil (13%). A 5l bottle of cooking oil costs an average of R228.94 (a month to month increase of R27.04).

Cake flour (7%). A 10kg bag of cake flour costs an average of R115.90 (a month to month increase of R7.52).

Brown bread (5%). A loaf of brown bread went up by an average of 60c, with June cost of R13.83.

Onions (6%)

Maize meal (4%). A 10kg bag of maize meal went up by an average of R3.11, with June cost of R89.62. 

“This situation raises three red flags: increased hunger, increased risk of social instability and a general deterioration of health — with short-term and long-term consequences. 

“In July public transport fares are set to increase (including the cost of transporting children to school) and the annual electricity tariff hikes will come into effect. Food price inflation is likely to continue climbing. Winter enters its second month,” he said.

The index found that the cost of 29 of 44 foods in the basket increased.

“All the local and global factors driving food prices upwards continue,” said Abrahams. 

“Locally, the disruptions on our major transport routes, particularly between Gauteng and Durban, have affected food transportation (blockages, protests, bad roads, accidents). 

“Much higher commodity prices, production and logistical costs will continue to drive prices upwards and are likely to continue rising for the rest of 2022.

“The cost of basic hygiene products is high.  These products compete in the household purse with food. These products are essential for good health and hygiene. 

“Significant increases were seen on green bar soap (up 14%), bath soap (up 5%), toothpaste (up 7%), shoe polish (up 5%), deodorant (up 5%), and dishwashing liquid (up 5%). Other increases included washing powder, Handy Andy, Jik and body creams.  

“Green bar soap has increased by 50% year-on-year, with the typical quantity required by women for their families — 8 x 500g bars — now costing R100.11 in June 2022.”


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