Throughout the past five months, the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity Group (PMBEJD) has been tracking the cost of groceries in South Africa and found that families have to fork out almost R200 extra for staples.
According to All4Women, there’s little relief for struggling families, as this January’s data showed yet another increase. Yes, the PMBEJD’s latest Household Affordability Index states that families are now paying an average of almost R200 extra per basket since it first began tracking the data five months ago.
The group based its data on prices from 44 supermarkets and 30 butcheries, in Johannesburg (Soweto, Alexandra, Tembisa and Hillbrow), Durban (KwaMashu, Umlazi, Isipingo, Durban CBD and Mtubatuba), Cape Town (Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, Philippi, Delft and Dunoon), Pietermaritzburg and Springbok (in the Northern Cape).
According to the data, the average cost of the Household Food Basket for January was R4 051. This is an increase in R48.78 from December 2020 and a whopping R194.86 increase from September 2020.
“The average cost of the Household Food Basket in January 2021 is now at its highest level since the start of the expanded collection in September 2020,” says Mervyn Abrahams, Programme Coordinator at PMBEJD.
One of the most concerning observations from the research is that it is core foods which have been driving the increases over the past five months. These include maize meal (15%), rice (3%), cake flour (3%), white sugar (5%), sugar beans (33%), samp (7%), cooking oil (4%), potatoes (4%), onions (2%), and white and brown bread (4% and 4%).
“The higher Rand-value cost of a basket of food has become unaffordable. It has breached the level of the National Minimum Wage, which in January 2021 is R3 321,60,” says Abrahams.
The long-term effects of the increase in the costs of these grocery items are that there is less money left for supplementary foods like eggs, dairy, meat and fish. Fresh vegetables and fruits are also put at the bottom of the list.
“The core foods are bought first and these foods ensure that families do not go hungry whilst ensuring that meals can be cooked. When the prices of core foods increase, there is less money to secure other important mostly nutritionally-rich foods, which are essential for health and well-being and strong immune systems.”
Over the past five months, the cost of the household domestic and personal hygiene products basket increased by R15,90 (2,3%) from R682,30 in September 2020 to R698,21 in January 2021.
“Domestic and personal hygiene products are critical expenses for safe hygiene and overall health and well being. The money needed to secure domestic and personal hygiene products is sourced from within the food budget. These products compete viciously in the food budget.”