Ina Opperman

By Ina Opperman

Business Journalist

Food prices decreased in June for some low-income consumers in SA

Consumers in some low-income communities paid less for food in June, but this was still more than what they paid a year ago, taking nutritious food off their plates.

Food prices decreased for some consumers in low-income communities in June 2024. However, the communities continue to live far below the poverty line when comparing their income with how much they spend on food.

Food remains too expensive for some low-income consumers.

Key data from the household food basket in the June 2024 Household Affordability Index compiled by the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity Group using prices collected by women who live and shop in low-income communities, show that the basket of 44 basic foods cost R5 252,77 on average in June, a decrease of R77.53 from R5 330.30 in May.

However, the basket price still increased by R196.32 from R5 056.45 in June 2023. The prices are gathered from 47 supermarkets and 32 butcheries in Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, Pietermaritzburg and Springbok.

In June 14 of the food items increased in price, while the prices of 30 food items decreased. Only the price of tea increased by more than 5%, while food items that cost less than 5% more, include onions, that cost 3% more, soup which cost 2% more, beef liver that cost 2% more, wors that cost 4% more, butternut that cost 4% more, margarine that cost 2% more and polony that cost 3% more.

ALSO READ: Household food basket prices for low-income consumers slightly lower in May

Food items that decreased in price in June compared to May

Food items in the basket that decreased in price in June by 5% or more, include fish (-5%), tomatoes (-13%), carrots (-6%), spinach (-8%), bananas (-13%), apples (-6%) and oranges (-5%). Food items that cost 12% or less, include cake flour (-4%), samp (-2%), cooking oil (-3%), salt (-3%), potatoes (-3%), stock cubes (-3%), eggs (-3%), chicken gizzards (-2%), cabbage (-3%), canned beans (-2%) and white bread (-3%).

According to Statistics SA’s latest Consumer Price Index for May 2024, headline inflation was 5.2% and 4.3% for food and non-alcoholic beverages inflation.

The food baskets cost R53,41 less in Johannesburg, R212.96 less in Durban, R29.25 less in Cape Town, R105.52 less in Springbok and R90.67 less in Mtubatuba. Food basket prices s increased in price in Pietermaritzburg, by R94.11.

Average cost to feed a child a basic nutritious diet

In June the average cost to feed a child a basic nutritious diet was R935.09 according to the group. Over the past month, the average cost to feed a child a basic nutritious diet decreased by R19,49 but increased compared to a year ago by R41.31.

In June 2024, the Child Support Grant of R530 was 30% below the Food Poverty Line of R760 and 43% below the average cost to feed a child a basic nutritious diet.

ALSO READ: It’s official! South Africans are buying less food

National Minimum Wage not enough to afford food

The National Minimum Wage is currently R27.58 an hour and R220.64 for an 8-hour day. In June, with 19 working days, The maximum National Minimum Wage for a General Worker was R4 192.16. Workers work to support their families and not just to sustain themselves alone.

The group says for black South African workers, one wage typically must support four people. Dispersed in a worker’s family of four, the national minimum wage is R1 048.04 per person, far below the upper-bound poverty line of R1 558 per person per month.

In addition, the June 2024 average cost of a basic nutritional food basket for a family of four people was R3 667.73. Using Pietermaritzburg-based figures for electricity and transport and the average figure for a minimum nutritional basket of food for a family of four, the group calculates that electricity and transport will take up 57.9% of a worker’s.

The family then buys food after paying for transport and electricity, leaving only R1 765.24 for food and everything else. This means that workers’ families will underspend on food by a minimum of 51,9%.

The group says in this scenario there is no possibility of a worker being able to afford enough nutritious food for her family. If the entire R1 765.24 went to buy food, for a family of four it comes to R441.31 per person per month, again far below the food poverty line of R760.

ALSO READ: Food prices stabilising, but still threaten food security

Domestic and personal hygiene products also very expensive

In addition, the Household Domestic and Personal Hygiene Index shows an increase of R6.04 compared to May and an increase of R74.70 compared to a year ago. The group says the cost of basic hygiene products is high and competes in the household purse with food, although these products are essential for good health and hygiene.

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