The foods that lowered the total cost of the basket in May were meat, tomatoes, oranges and bananas. Picture: Tracey Adams African News Agency (ANA)
The foods that lowered the total cost of the basket in May were meat, tomatoes, oranges and bananas. Picture: Tracey Adams African News Agency (ANA)

Average household food basket cost R61.82 less in May - affordability index

By BR Reporter Time of article published May 26, 2021

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THE average cost of the Household Food Basket in May was R4 137.11. Month-on-month, between April and May, the average cost of the Household Food Basket decreased by R61.82 (-1.5%).

This is according to the latest Household Affordability Index compiled by the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity Group (PMBEJD).

The Household Affordability Index tracks food price data from 44 supermarkets and 30 butcheries in Johannesburg (Soweto, Alexandra, Tembisa and Hillbrow), Durban (KwaMashu, Umlazi, Isipingo, Durban CBD and Mtubatuba), Cape Town (Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, Philippi, Delft and Dunoon), Pietermaritzburg and Springbok (in the Northern Cape).

The organisation said over the past nine months, between September 2020 (the first data release) and May 2021, the average cost of the Household Food Basket increased by R280.77 (7.3%), from R3 856.34 in September last year to R4 137.11 in May this year.

“The spikes we saw in April 2021, where the average cost of the Household Food Basket increased by R159.37 (3.9%) in one month, have subdued in May 2021, but the reduction of the basket in May of -R61.82 is still much less than the April hike,” it said.

According to the index, food inflation was still running very high and off a very high base.

“While the Joburg (-3.1%), Durban (-0.7%) and Cape Town (-1.9%) baskets all showed a decrease in May 2021, the outliers of Pietermaritzburg (+1.8%) and Springbok (+1%) continue to rise,” the organisation said.

The foods that lowered the total cost of the basket in May were meat, tomatoes, oranges and bananas.

“While the overall cost of the average Household Food Basket has come down slightly, the core foods in the basket - for example, maize meal, cake flour, sugar beans, samp, cooking oil, potatoes, onions - continued to rise, albeit more slowly. The average cost of the foods prioritised and bought first in the Household Food Basket came in at R2 232.12 in May 2021.”

This was a month-on-month increase of 0.2% (R4.94) and a nine-month increase of 8.1% (R166.41).

“At an average cost of R2 232.12 in May 2021, these core foods are relatively very expensive in relation to the total money available in the household purse to buy food. The sustained high cost of core staple foods is worrying, as it is resulting in a crisis of proper nutrition on the family plate,” the group said.

The report said deteriorating affordability in low-income families has negative consequences for overall household health and well-being, and these would affect all developmental outcomes.

The index also revealed that the national minimum wage for a general worker in May was R3 643.92.

According to the index, transport to work and back costs, on average, R1 260, which was 34.6% of their minimum wage.

Electricity costs, on average, R647.50, which was 17.8% of the minimum wage. Together, transport and electricity, both non-negotiable expenses, take up 52.3% (R1 907.50) of the minimum wage, leaving R1 736.42 to secure all other household expenses, the group said.

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE

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