The Household Affordability Index reported that the average cost of household food basket in South Africa increased by 3.9 percent, or R159.37, in April to R4 198.93 compared to a month earlier – the highest level since September 2020. Photo: FreePhotos/Pixabay
The Household Affordability Index reported that the average cost of household food basket in South Africa increased by 3.9 percent, or R159.37, in April to R4 198.93 compared to a month earlier – the highest level since September 2020. Photo: FreePhotos/Pixabay

Average cost of household food basket up by R159 in April

By Sandile Mchunu Time of article published Apr 30, 2021

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DURBAN - THE HOUSEHOLD Affordability Index reported that the average cost of household food basket in South Africa increased by 3.9 percent, or R159.37, in April to R4 198.93 compared to a month earlier – the highest level since September 2020.

The index tracks food price data from 44 supermarkets and 30 butcheries, mostly in the townships of Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, Pietermaritzburg and Springbok.

In the last eight months, which is from September 2020 to April, the average cost of the household food basket was up by 8.9 percent or R342.59.

In September the average cost of the household food basket was R3 856.34.

The data also noted that all household food baskets in the cities surveyed showed a month-on-month increase and April was the most expensive month.

“All household food baskets in April are at the highest level since September 2020 and 36 out of 44 foods in the average household food basket went up. The increases were across the board and core staple foods, vegetables and meats went up. The monthly spike in April is the highest we have ever seen,” the index showed.

However, the food price data in April was collected before the latest fuel price hike, which came into effect on April 7, and before the new electricity tariff of 15.63 percent increase.

“Fuel prices and electricity prices run through the entire economy and the food value chains. The full impact of these increases has yet to come through. Based on the current upward trend in food prices, we predict that with the increases in fuel and electricity, that food prices will increase beyond 10 percent for the 2021 term,” the report said.

Meanwhile a Pietermaritzburg NGO, Economic Justice Dignity, said the Covid-19 outbreak had contributed to the surge in food prices.

Its research showed that the price of a household food basket increased by 8.2 percent from March 2 to June 3 last year, at the height of the pandemic.

In a separate report released earlier this week, research by TransUnion found the number of South African consumers in households whose income was currently negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic had dropped 20 percentage points since the week of November 30.

However, the study also revealed that nearly nine out of 10 of these financially impacted consumers remained concerned about their ability to pay their bills and loans.

TransUnion South Africa’s head of financial services, Andries Zietsman, said the ongoing Consumer Pulse study which aimed to better understand the financial impact of Covid-19 on consumers, showed that 62 percent of consumers reported in March 2021 that their household income was currently negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“That is compared to 82 percent of the week of November 30. This was largely due to the South Africa economy showing signs of increased activity after emerging from the second Covid-19 wave in February,” Zietsman said.

However, he added that only 3 percent of surveyed households indicated that their finances had fully recovered from the negative impact of the pandemic and 51 percent said they have not yet recovered.

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