Basic food and personal care items are costing struggling South Africans nearly 14% more than a year ago, raising fears of rising hunger, social instability and deteriorating health.
The latest Household Affordability Index compiled by Die Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity Group (PMBEJD) shows that the average cost of the basket increased by 560.57 Rand (13.6%) from 4,128.23 Rand in June 2021 to 4,688.81 Rand in June 2022.
It tracks food price data from 44 supermarkets and 30 butcher shops in Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, Pietermaritzburg and Springbok in the Northern Cape.
“The escalation of food inflation in staples that households can’t afford and a, at with no apparent relief imminent, at least in the short term, is a major problem,” said PMBEJD’s Mervyn Abrahams.
“This situation raises three red flags: increased hunger, increased there is a risk of social instability and general health deterioration — with short-term and long-term consequences.
“In July, public transport fares (including the cost of transporting children to school) are expected to increase, and annual electricity price increases come into effect. Food price inflation is likely to rise further. Winter is entering its second month,” he said.
The index found that the cost of 29 out of 44 items in the basket has increased.
“All the local and global factors , which continue to affect food prices upwards,” said Abrahams.
“Locally, the disruptions on our main transport routes, particularly between Gauteng and Durban, have impacted food transport (blockades, protests, bad roads, accidents).
“Significantly higher raw material prices, production and logistics costs will continue to drive prices higher and are likely to continue to rise for the remainder of 2022.
“The cost of basic hygiene products are high. These products compete with groceries in the household budget. These products are essential for good health and hygiene.
“Significant increases were seen in green bar soaps (up 14%), bath soap (up 5%), toothpaste (up 7%), shoe polish (up 5% ), deodorant (by 5%) and dishwashing liquid (by 5%). Other increases were in washing powder, Handy Andy, Jik and body creams.
“Green bar soap is up 50% year-on-year with the typical amount women need for their families being 8 x 500g bars – cost now in June 2022 R100.11.”
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