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By Vukosi Maluleke

Digital Journalist

The quote of seven colours: Are your pockets deep enough for the festive season?

High food prices have forced most households to trim their grocery list this year.

Christmas lunch isn’t complete without the right mix of colours and flavours to complement the festive spirit.

As the festive season draws closer, most breadwinners are anxiously turning their pockets inside-out in attempts to deck up the table with delicacies of yesteryear.

However as reality persists, the Christmas table might be a little empty for most South African households this year.

By no doubt, 2023 was a financially challenging year for many South Africans as they tightened their budgets to survive pocket-pinching prices amid record-high inflation.

Furthermore, climate change, geopolitical issues and volatile markets worsened the harsh effects of an already embattled economy.

So, how much will food prices affect your Christmas menu this year?

ALSO READ: Here’s why food has become expensive

Pocket-pinching potatoes and pricey eggs

Your favourite egg and potato salad might be an expensive delicacy you could potentially forgo given the high cost of its key ingredients.

According to the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity (PMBEJD) Household Affordability Index, a pack of 60 eggs was priced at R191.83 in November – increased by R77,67 compared to the year prior.

The survey which compares prices across 47 supermarkets and butcheries revealed significant changes in prices of 44 food items.

So what led to the sudden hike in egg prices? The outbreak of Avian Flu abruptly trimmed egg supplies as many farmers were forced to get rid of stock to mitigate the impact of the virus.

ALSO READ: No relief at the till for low-income consumers

Although high prices remain a concern for most South Africans, supply shortages could soon be a thing of the past. Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza recently announced that stock levels were replenishing steadily, adding there was no need for panic buying.

Potato prices have also increased at record-high levels in recent months with Potatoes SA attributing the hike to load shedding and geopolitical factors.

Frequent power outages have forced farmers to scale back on produce as they continuously struggle to maintain consistent irrigation practices.

Adding to the pressure, the war between Russia and Ukraine further escalated input costs like those of fertiliser, which ultimately led to an increase in potato prices.

ALSO READ: Inflation spikes to 5.4% amid soaring fuel and food costs

Soaring chicken prices

Chicken supply was also negatively affected by Avian Flu as farmers had to cull millions of chickens to contain the virus. As a result of diminished supply, prices shot through the roof.

A 10 kg pack of frozen chicken pieces was priced at R400,60 in November, a steep increase from R378.94 a year ago.

Aside from Avian Flu, the South African Poultry Association (Sapa) noted a number of factors currently plaguing the industry including load shedding, poor service delivery and collapsing infrastructure.

ALSO READ: Food price increases slowing and settling, but at higher price point

Beefing up your budget

What’s a braai without beef? Thankfully, South Africans may never have to find out as the price of beef showed some consistency in the last 12 months.

According to the survey, a 2 kg pack of beef costs 32 cents less compared to a year ago. Therefore, red meat lovers will have to spend R181.64 to include that amount of beef.

Meanwhile, the same amount of wors costs R142.63, up by R2,22 compared to a year ago.

ALSO READ: Poor consumers must cut more nutritious food as prices keep rising

Rising rice prices and slippery sunflower oil

Rice is also a little more expensive than it was a year ago, with a 10 kg packet costing R167.54 in November, up from R135.76 in 2022.

After a drastic hike last year, cooking oil has been on a slippery slope in recent months, lubricating the tight budgets of most South Africans.

A 5 litre bottle of sunflower oil costs a lot less than it did last November, retailing at R162,91 – a significant slip from R188.53.

ALSO READ: Household food basket prices keep increasing for the poor

Bizarre butternut prices

It might cost you more to add yellow to your Christmas plate this year as the cost of butternut increased notably over recent months.

A 10 kg packet of butternut costs R46.01 more in November than it did a year ago.

Meanwhile, adding Chakalaka to your lunch could also cost you more as the price of canned beans rose by R8,59 this year, among other ingredients.

ALSO READ: South Africans struggle as household food basket costs surge by R141.82 in one month

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