Mzansi households are barely making ends meet with the soaring food prices currently experienced. This is according to the latest affordability index of the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity Group.
The advocacy group has called on government to reinstate the Covid-19 relief grant to assist desperate families.
“Over the past 10 months, the cost of the average household food basket has increased by 7,1% (or R271.90) to R4 128 in June 2021. Mothers tell us that high food prices have hollowed out proper nutrition on the family plate,” said programme coordinator Mervyn Abrahams.
“This has removed an important line of defence against Covid-19 and other common illnesses. Children and women are more vulnerable to disease.
“It is likely that the long queues of hungry people that we saw in the first and second waves … will again come to pass. The state has taken away all income support, wages have not gone up, unemployment levels remain untenably high, jobs continue to be lost and food prices have gone up.”
According to the advocacy group, cooking oil prices continue to be high, as are sugar prices and sugar beans prices. Cooking oil is currently more than 70% more expensive due to a global shortage of oil-producing crops such as sunflowers.
This means that today, a two-litre bottle of cooking oil on promotion costs almost twice than two years ago. This is attributed to South Africa’s huge dependency on imports, resulting in a gap between demand and supply.
What about the price of potatoes?
According to Absa’s latest fresh produce markets trends report, potatoes prices are also up by 70%.
“Potato supply is tight. This is still the effect of the high levels of rain experienced during the summer months. Rains delayed the planting earlier in the year and also affected yield and quality. This is keeping prices at elevated levels,” said Absa in the report issue by Abrie Rautenbach, the bank’s head of agribusiness.
Meanwhile, all fruits and vegetables, except potatoes and onions, had come down in price. “This is probably because potatoes and onions are typically sourced in the Free State during the winter months, said Abrahams.
He also indicated that meat prices had increase, which was a typical trend during the winter months when feed costs and energy costs increase.