South African food prices are now set to drop after inflation hikes.1 The country’s consumers have been experiencing a tough economic climate, with inflation, interest rate hikes, and load shedding all taking their toll.2 According to Stats SA, Consumer price inflation rose upwards to 7.1 percent in March from 7.0 in February.3 This came despite many experts predicting a decline.4 The 14.0% year-on-year increase for food prices and non-alcoholic beverages was one of the biggest contributors to the overall inflation rate, contributing 2.4 percentage points to the total.5 The increase was the largest annual increase since in March 2009.6 In March, this year, the sweets and deserts; fruit and vegetables; and the product category ‘other food products’ all saw huge upward inflationary pressure, while the milk, eggs and cheese product group saw its annual increase reached 13.6% from the recent 3.7% low in in April 2022.7 (richest)
With the easing of food prices consumers will be expected to experience some respite.8 According to Business Tech, Dawie Maree who is Head of Information and Marketing at FNB Agribusiness said; “We expect the prices for a majority of food items to start decelerating in the next 12 months.”9 However Maree went on to say that FNB Agribusiness has expected some food prices to start dropping, such as grains, thanks to an excellent crop and the easing of international prices.10 “We expected an easing of food prices from the second half of the year, although it will be very much dependent on energy/fuel prices and possible price shocks on the international level, given the impact of the exchange rate.11 The probability of latter is low at this stage ” said Dawie Maree.12(richest)
The decrease in food prices such as grain should be taken as good news. The combined forces of fuel prices and load shedding took their toll on the country’s common citizens. Load shedding was due to limited resources in terms of coal, while the high fuel prices were due to the war in Ukraine. The new reprieve will come as a relief to those struggling to make ends meet. South Africa still has a wide gap between rich and poor. This deceleration of prices should be taken up by the government as an opportunity to improve food security and promote local South African or regional products. One of the reasons for the sudden drop in food and also fuel prices is the grain deal made would Russia. The decrease in grain prices had a domino affect for other food prices.
The Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and dignity group (PMBEJD), has shown its latest food basket data shows that oil and fat prices were generally the only foods to come down in price over the last year – while pantry essentials and vegetables continue to rise.13 (businesstech.co.za)
According to the PMBEJD, the nutritional basket of foods it has monitored, has increased R 140 in October and will set consumers back R5, 297.58. This is 148.81 (2.8%) higher than in September 2023 and almost R509. 75(10.6%) higher than the same basket in October 2022.14 The basket comprises 44 food items that feature in the monthly shopping of the majority of the country’s households and gives an indication of real price shifts at a retail in the country, even when compared to the official inflation rate.15 Year-on-year inflation for the basket was at 10.6% – higher than food inflation tracked in Stats SA’s CPI, which came in at 8.1% in September.16 The PMBEJD’s year-on-year basket price difference was also 7.3% in August.17 25 of the 44 items in the basket are still showing double-digit price jumps compared to a year ago, and 12 of these items are more than 20% higher.18 The main reason why pantry essentials and vegetables are rising is because of the continued imposition of loadshedding and the scarcity of resources. The surge in vegetable prices which include onion and potato, can be attributed to them becoming scarce in part due to the change in climate because of global warming.
The PMBEJD, as a civil society group must send their data to the government departments concerned: that is the Departments of Agriculture, Trade, Industry, and Commerce and Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment to verify. More needs to be done to bring down inflation. The state in the form of its various departments need to come clean about the fluctuations of food prices. If it is due to scarcity of such foods, due to the fact they can’t be grown in the soil, then this is a matter for science to answer. The state needs to investigate the source of this problem and why some food items have higher prices than other. The government may even have to pay subsidies to the food companies to keep their prices low. As it is it is the poor who can usually afford the vegetables concerned over meat which is eaten on special occasions will find this increase in prices difficult to cope with.
eggs & cheese product group saw its annual increase reach 13.6% from the recent 3.7% low in April 2022. Consumers will have some respite as food prices is expected to ease in South Africa. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
The basket comprises 44 food items that feature in the monthly shopping of the majority of South African households and gives an indication of real price shifts at a retail level in the country … 13 14 15 16 17 18