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Cooking oil prices rise over 50% in a year, basic food prices soar

The price of cooking oil has risen over 50% since May 2021, according to a South African inflation tracking index. Picture: Reuters

The price of cooking oil has risen over 50% since May 2021, according to a South African inflation tracking index. Picture: Reuters

Published Jun 2, 2022

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Durban – The price of cooking oil in South Africa has risen over 50% in the past year.

This is according to a report by the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity Group’s May 2022 household affordability index.

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The index showed that food prices across the country continued to rise. The new food basket which the organisation uses to measure prices consists of 44 basic food items.

Cooking oil prices have surged in recent months because of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which has also led to the price of petrol jumping to around R24 per litre.

A screenshot of the report showing the increases on basic food items across South Africa. Picture: Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity Group

From April to May 2022, the index showed the average household food basket increased by R66.96 from R4 542.93 to R4 609.89.

On a year-to-year basis, the average household food basket increased by 11.4%, from R4 137.11 in May 2021 to R4 609.89 in May 2022.

The price of potatoes increased by 22% since May last year, as did beef liver.

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Chicken livers have increased by 32% since May last year while the price of polony increased by 36%.

The rice of brown and white bread has risen 10% in the last 12 months.

Cooking oil and potatoes both ranked among the items that are bought first by households, and showed one of the largest price hikes compared to other basic food items.

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A screenshot of the report showing the price increases in basic food items across South Africa. Picture: Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity

“Affordability, in its simplest form, is relative to income levels and the cost of goods and services (expenses). Workers work to support their families. Workers reasonably expect to cover the costs of goods and services needed for dignity and household functionality off their wages. In most black South African households, only one family member works. This one wage must support a reductive average of 4.5 persons in May 2022,” the report said.

“The National Minimum Wage is a poverty wage – it hurts workers, it reduces productivity in the workplace, and slows down economic growth,” it added.

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The report shows that Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town have a variation of around R150 in terms of the price of a basket of goods. The average price for a basket of food in these three cities is R4 593.54.

Springbok in the Northern Cape appears to be the most expensive place, as a basket of goods costs R4 927.36.

In Johannesburg, the price of a basket of food increased by R63.43 (1.4%) on a month-to-month basis and by R440.88 (10.5%) a year.

In Durban, it increased by R126.54 (2.8%) since April and R563.53 (13.6%) on a year-to-year basis.

Cape Town experienced the lowest increase among the big three cities, with a basket of goods increasing by R14.10 (0.3%) on a month-to-month basis and R400.63 (9.9%) annually.

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