Ina Opperman

By Ina Opperman

Business Journalist

Inflation up again in February

Inflation was expected to start stabilising in 2024, but inflation increased again in the second month of the year after also rising in January.

Annual consumer inflation quickened again in February, increasing to 5.6% from 5.3% in January and 5.1% in December. The product categories driving much of the upward momentum include housing and utilities, miscellaneous goods and services (most notably insurance), food and non-alcoholic beverages and transport.

According to Statistics South Africa, medical aid premiums in the miscellaneous goods and services category increased 10.3% in February compared to January, taking the annual rate for health insurance to 12.9%. Premiums for all types of insurance increased 9.5% over the past year.

Inflation for food and non-alcoholic beverages slowed to 6.1% in February, with most categories recording lower annual rates, except for hot beverages and oils and fats. The rate for hot beverages was driven higher by annual price increases for instant coffee that increased 12.1%) black tea 10.1% and Rooibos tea by 8.1%.

The rate for oils and fats remained in negative territory, mainly due to a 12.9% annual decline in the price of sunflower oil, but the fall in prices did not extend to the price of peanut butter, which increased in price 14.0% since February 2023.

ALSO READ: Inflation increases again in January

You paid more for eggs, rice, pizza and pies than a year ago

In addition, the lingering impact of rising egg prices continue to affect the milk, eggs and cheese category, with eggs 30.7% more expensive than a year ago. Although the current average price of a tray of six eggs at R25.48 is less than its peak in December 2023 when it cost R25.85, it is still higher than in February 2023 when it cost R21,13.

Annual rice inflation increased further to 25.0% in February from 23.8% in January. A 1 kg bag of rice would have set you back R31.83 in February, sharply up from R23.54 a year ago. Pizza and pies that also fall under the bread and cereals category with rice, also increased sharply by 17.5% in the 12 months to February.

However, it was not all bad news in the bread and cereals category. Several products are now cheaper than a year ago, including bread flour (down 5.7%), rusks (down 2.7%), ready-mix flour (down 2.2%), pasta (down 2.1%) and macaroni (down 0.5%).

ALSO READ: Shisa Nyama Index: Has food inflation reached its peak?

Foods that became more expensive over the past year

  • Potatoes: 32.8%
  • Eggs: 30.7%
  • Sweet potatoes: 27.3%
  • Rice: 25.0%
  • Brown sugar: 23.1%
  • White sugar: 21.1%
  • Condensed milk: 18.8%
  • Broccoli: 17.7%
  • Pizza or pies: 16.6%

ALSO READ: Maize Meal Porridge Index shows effect of food inflation on low-income households

Transport also increases again

The transport category registered an annual increase of 5.4%, driven higher mainly by increases in vehicle and fuel prices.

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