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Basic food prices increase month by month

The price of food continues to soar, with a basket of essential goods increasing by R301 in the past year.

This is according to social justice NGO, Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action (Pacsa), which tracks the monthly food inflation on 36 basic food items.

In contrast, the survey found that all vegetables excluding potatoes decreased in price as did all animal proteins.

The latest food price barometer was released on Thursday by the agency. For basic food items bought mostly by lower-income households, the food basket increased by R26.46 (1.4%) from June to July.

"Year-on-year the Pacsa food basket increased by R301.46 (18.7%) from R1 612.83 in July 2015 to R1 914.29 in July 2016," Mervyn Abrahams, director of Pacsa, said.

"All of the starches in the July food basket increased; these include maize meal, rice, cake flour, bread white and brown and samp. White sugar and sugar beans also increased. All of these foods driving prices upwards are core foods in the baskets of low-income households," he said.

In contrast, the survey found that all vegetables excluding potatoes decreased in price as did all animal proteins, excluding the "cheaper" cuts of chicken necks and feet

Frozen chicken portions dropped by R3.66 (7.9%) per 2kg packet month on month (R42.82 vs. R46.48).

"We track well-known local brands of frozen chicken. This July, we noticed unbranded packages of frozen chicken pieces in several of the supermarkets where prices are monitored (dropped). It is possible, although would require a time interval to confirm, that the drop in the local chicken brand might be due to American imports. We should be able to verify this in the coming months," Abrahams said.

The agency noted that the price of a 25kg bag of maize meal "did an about-turn" and returned to its May 2016 high of R225.

"It increased by R12.17 month on month moving the total cost of the bag to R225.15 (the May high was R225.82). This reversal confirms our suggestions last month that we are not yet seeing a downward trend in the maize meal price yet. The year-on-year increase for 25kg maize meal is 37.5%, with a bag costing R61.35 more than it did 12 months ago (R225.15 vs. R163.80)," Abrahams said.

According to Abrahams, the July 2016 cost of the Pacsa minimum nutritional food basket for a family of four was R2 426.25, for a family of five was R3 070.11 and for a family of seven was R4 248.62. Inflation on a minimum nutritional food basket for families of between four and seven members remained unchanged at 14.4% year on year, he said.

Ina Wilken, deputy chairwoman, of the SA Consumer Union, said the Pacsa survey was an accurate reflection of the struggles people faced.

"This is coupled with the other basic services that are going up all the time. Besides last month's fuel decrease we have mostly had increases. In addition to that people have been slapped with increases to electricity, water and sanitation. It is difficult for many people, especially low-income earners and those on government grants to make ends meet," she said.

Food cost in numbers

According to Pacsa:

  • Last month the cost of feeding a small child (aged 3-9 years) a diet complete in minimum nutrition was R545.33 a month.
  • The cost of feeding a girl/boy child (aged 10-13 years) or an adult woman (aged 19-64 years) or an elderly woman (aged >65 years) a diet complete in minimum nutrition was R594.60 a month.
  • The cost of feeding a girl child (aged 14-18 years) or a very active woman (aged 19-64 years) or an adult man (aged 19-64 years) or an elderly man (aged >65 years) a diet complete in minimum nutrition was R633.18 a month.
  • The cost of feeding a boy child (aged 14-18 years) or a very active man (aged 19-64 years) or a pregnant or lactating woman a diet complete in minimum nutrition was R702.42 a month.
  • The current 2016 value of a Child Support Grant is R350 a month and an old-age pension was R1 500 a month.

 

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