The increase in healthcare costs is now at its highest rate since 2017.
Stats SA’s CPI for September, released on Wednesday, reveals that inflation increased to 5.4 percent from 4.8 percent in August; the rate is now at the same level it was in June.
In addition to the huge hike in the fuel price, the costs of meat, fish, fruit, and non-alcoholic beverages all registered higher annual rates in September.
The transport category exerted strong upward pressure on the monthly inflation rate, with the fuel index increasing for a second consecutive month. It rose by 7.6 percent between August and September as the price of inland 95-octane petrol jumped by R1,71 in September, reaching a 13-month high of R24,54.
“After three consecutive months in negative territory, annual fuel inflation jumped from 11.7 percent in August to 1.5 percent in September,” the report states.
After cooling for the past five months, the annual rate for food and non-alcoholic beverages (NAB) climbed slightly to 8.1 percent from 8.0 percent in August. The data shows that meat, fish, oils and fats, fruit, and non-alcoholic beverages all registered higher annual rates in September. Lower rates were recorded for bread and cereals, sugar, sweets and desserts, vegetables and milk, eggs, and cheese.
Meat prices increased by an average of 0.6 percent between August and September, pushing the annual rate up to 3.8 percent. Costs of poultry-related products also increased last month as producers started to cull birds in response to the outbreak of avian flu.
Fresh whole chicken and chicken portions prices jumped by 2.2 percent, while non-IQF chicken portions now cost 1.9 percent more. Egg prices registered a monthly increase of 0.3 percent following a decline of 0.4 percent in August, Stats SA reports.
“Prices for poultry-related products deserve a close watch in the coming months to gauge the impact of the avian flu outbreak.”
The price index for hot beverages also jumped between August and September. The largest increases were recorded for instant coffee (up 4.8 percent), ground coffee (up 4.6 percent), and rooibos tea (up 3.7 percent).
Price inflation for bread and cereals, however, came down for the fifth consecutive month, dropping from 9.9 percent in August to 9.2 percent in September. Lower annual rates were recorded for most products in this group.
“Rice, for example, saw its rate slow to 18.6 percent from 19.8 percent in August. Higher rates were recorded for maize meal (11.9 percent), instant noodles (17.7 percent), and cakes and tarts (8.4 percent).”
Stats SA reports that annual health inflation was 6.5 percent in September compared to 6.2 percent in August. This is the highest rate for health since November 2017 when it was also 6.5 percent. Prices for medical products increased by 7.5 percent in the 12 months to September 2023.