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Study shows 30% spike in food prices

Published May 29, 2020


CAPE TOWN - A recent study conducted by the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity finds how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the cost of food and how it impacts lower-income households.

The organisation put together a list of essential and basic household groceries, called ‘PMBEJD Household Food Basket’ as part of the study. Using this as a way of tracking prices of individual groceries averaging across 5 supermarkets and 4 butcheries to determine the total cost of the basket itself.

From 2 March (Pre-lockdown) to 4 May, “the price of the PMBEJD Household Food Basket increased by R249,92 (7,8%), taking the total cost of the basket in May 2020 to R3 470,92 (from R3 221,00 in March 2020)” according to the study.

Here are increases of the individual groceries within the basket:

Core Staples:

Rice: 26%

Cake flour: 3%

White sugar: 6%

Sugar beans: 18%

Cooking oil: 11%

White bread: 15%

Brown bread: 14%


Potatoes: 8%

Onions: 58%

Tomatoes: 12%

Carrots: 22%

Spinach: 13%

Cabbage: 22%

The study also points out that food supplies at home are running out faster with the entire family at home during the lockdown leading to an increased frequency in grocery shopping and the number of goods.

This has caused a financial shock to lower-income households, with an increase of R250 per basket after just two months making the total cost R3 470,92 with the report pointing out that this is more than the National Minimum Wage of R3 321,60.

The study continues by pointing out how these changes have forced many to seek financial help such as loan-sharks with high-interest rates due to hunger and desperation.

Despite the easing of lockdown, the financial shock of those in-need may continue according to the report which urges the government to respond to the struggle forced upon those less fortunate.

Although the data within the study was focused on communities within Pietermaritzburg, these findings and price increases are applicable across South Africa.

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