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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

Cash-strapped South Africans are paying almost 14% more for basic food and personal hygiene items than a year ago, prompting fears of rising hunger, social instability and poor health.

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

The basket tracks food prices at 44 supermarkets and 30 butcheries in Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, Pietermaritzburg and Springbok in the Northern Cape. Of the 44 food items monitored, 29 cost more. 

“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 PMBEJD programme co-ordinator Mervyn Abrahams.

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- and long-term consequences,” he said. 

“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.”

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

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

“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 ... compete in the household purse with food. These products are essential for good health and hygiene. 

“Significant increases were seen on green bar soap (14%), bath soap (5%), toothpaste (7%), shoe polish (5%), deodorant (5%), and dishwashing liquid (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 — 8 x 500g bars — now costing R100.11 a month.”



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