Huge food price hikes in South Africa – you pay more for this

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The most recent Household Affordability Index from the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity group (PMBEJD) shows that food prices continued to rise in July.

The group noted the average cost of its Household Food Basket R4.748 in July 2022, an increase of R60.06 – or 1.3% – from R4.688 in June.

Year-over-year the average cost of the Household Food Basket increased by R611.44 (14.8%), from R4.137 in July 2021.

The massive increase of 14.8% is well above headline inflation (CPI) recorded in July at 7.4% and outpacing reported food inflation by 8.6%.

This poses a stark crisis for most households whose wage and salary increases are typically linked to or below the CPI. Data from BankservAfrica on the latest figures for home payers in the country shows that the average household is getting poorer and taking home less each month, while the cost of living continues to rise.

While food prices are significantly higher than the same time last year and are still rising monthly, the PMBEJD said there is a small bright spot. “While the average household food basket continues to rise, data from the past three months is beginning to show a moderation in prices,” it said.

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“There are indications that global commodity prices of, among other things, grains and oilseeds and crude oil are stabilizing. This means that imported inflation is likely to be lower, and we should see some of this trickle down. Furthermore, we will probably see lower fuel prices next month.”

However, the group said that while we could stabilize food prices, it is not clear when these prices will start to fall.

“Further, any moderation in food prices will not mean more money in people’s pockets, as July and August bring higher taxi fares and higher electricity rates. Therefore, there will continue to be pressures on households’ ability to afford their basic expenses for the foreseeable future.

food prices

The PMBEJD basket consists of 44 staple food items most commonly purchased by lower-income households, which make up the majority of households in the country.

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Year over year, only three foods saw significant price declines, with one item remaining virtually unchanged. The other 40 items in the basket saw a price jump, 28 of which were more than 10%.

These were the main changes, with prices rising or falling by 10% or more.

  • Boiling oil: +63%
  • Spinach: +55%
  • Tomatoes: +34%
  • Green pepper: +29%
  • Cake Flour: +27%
  • Roots: +27%
  • Cremora: +24%
  • Polonie: +24%
  • Sample: +23%
  • Canned Sardines: +21%
  • butternut: +20%
  • cornmeal: +19%
  • Oranges: +19%
  • Chicken livers: +17%
  • cabbage: +17%
  • bananas: +17%
  • worst: +15%
  • Beef: +14%
  • Brown bread: +14%
  • Stock cubes: +13%
  • Eggs: +13%
  • Margarine: +13%
  • Beans in a can: +12%
  • White bread: +12%
  • offal: +12%
  • White sugar: +11%
  • onions: +10%
  • Apricot jam: +10%

Food prices July 2021 to July 2022 – big changes


Monthly changes are generally marginal, with only carrots popping out – now 12% more expensive.

In total, 27 foods saw the price rise between June and July, five remained the same and 12 fell in price.

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Food prices May 2022 to June 2022 – major changes


Regionally, the cost difference of the total household food basket in Joburg, Durban and Cape Town is consistently around ± R150.

Springbok and Pietermaritzburg are usually outliers in the data (Springbok is the highest and Pietermaritzburg is the lowest).

  • The Joburg basket increased by R22.33 (0.5%) mom and R583.62 (13.9%) yoy in July 2022 to R4 771.49.
  • The Durban basket increased by R69.10 (1.4%) mom and R724.97 (17.6%) yoy in July 2022 to R4,851.88.
  • The Cape Town basket increased by R157.41 (3.5%) mom and R576.93 (14.2%) yoy in July 2022 to R4,648.26.
  • The Springbok basket decreased by R127.32 (-2.5%) mom and increased by R411.29 (9.1%) yoy to R4,919.13 in July 2022.
  • Maritzburg’s basket decreased by R37.58 (-0.8%) mom and increased by R600.27 (15.1%) yoy to R4,564.94 in July 2022.

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