For the month of February, South Africans paid slightly less for food, according to the February 2022 Household Affordability Index.
Month-on-month, the average cost of a standardised household food basket decreased by R45,33 (-1%), from R4 401,02 in January 2022 to R4 355,70 in February 2022. However, year-on-year, the average cost of the basket increased by R354,52 (8.9%), from R4 001,17 in February 2021 to R4 355,70 in February 2022.
The index which is compiled by the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity Group (PMBEJD) tracks food price data from 44 supermarkets and 30 butcheries in Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, Pietermaritzburg and Springbok.
According to Mervyn Abrahams, programme coordinator of the PMBEJD, food prices dropped marginally in all areas tracked. “Most foods in the basket came down in February 2022 – and across most staples, meats and vegetables, with the exception of oils and fats: cooking oil, margarine and Cremora,” he pointed out.
Food prices unaffordable to minimum wage workers
Abrahams said that the national minimum wage for a general worker in February 2022 is R3 470,40.
“Transport to work and back will cost a worker an average of R1 280 (36,9% of minimum wage), and electricity an average of R731,50 (21,1% of minimum wage),” he said. “Together transport and electricity, both non-negotiable expenses, take up 58% (R2 011,50) of the national minimum wage, leaving R1 458,90 to secure all other household expenses.”
According to Abrahams, workers’ families will underspend on food by a minimum of 51,8% for the month of March, based on PMBEJDs basic nutritional food basket which stands at R3 029,23 for a family of four persons.
This is quite concerning, considering that “productivity in the workplace and learning quality in classrooms, and whether we have to visit a health centre or not, are all dependent on the food we eat,” he said.
Food poverty for children
Furthermore, in February 2022, the average cost to feed a child a basic nutritious diet was R771,95. This cost increased year-on-year by R61,20 or 8,6%.
In February 2022, the child support grant of R460 is 26% below the food poverty line of R624, and 40% below the average cost to feed a child a basic nutritious diet of R771,95.
Abrahams pointed out that, in its annual adjustments, Government chose to increase the child support grant by R20 from April 2022. This is an increase of 4,3%.
“The R20 increase will move the child support grant of R480 from 26% below the food poverty line of R624, to 23% below the food poverty line,” Abrahams said.
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