Food and NutritionHealth & Lifestyle

South Africans are compromising on health for affordability amid food price hikes

It is not your imagination. Essential food items have increased and many families are finding it increasingly difficult to decide what to prioritise in their monthly shopping trolley.

According to the Household Affordability Index by the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity Group, which tracks food price data from 47 supermarkets and 32 butcheries in Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, Pietermaritzburg, Mtubatuba and Springbok, a number of household core food staples or food prioritised by households found in a household food basket has increased.

Core foods are purchased first by households and these foods ensure that families do not go hungry whilst ensuring that meals can be cooked.

Out of the 17 core foods, 11 core foods increased in cost from February 2024 and March 2024.

Here is a look at the month-on-month increases in the cost of core foods.

Foods trackedFebruary 2024March 2024Change in cost
Maize meal (30kg)R289.17R291.67R2.50
Cake flour (10kg)R129.25R129.82R0.52
White sugar (10kg)R208.13R209.20R1.07
Rice (10kg)R170.01R174.31R4.30
Sugar beans (5kg)R204.13R211.44R7.31
Samp (5kg)R62.97R64.10R1.13
Curry powder (200g)R37.69R39.78R2.08
Stock cubes 24 cubes x2R47.55R49.04R1.49
Tea (250g)R29.52R30.52R1.00
Brown bread (25 loaves)R377.47R387.29R9.82

Year-on-year, the index showed 12 of the 17 core foods increased in cost. Between March 2023 and March 2024, the price of these foods rose:

– rice (34%)

– cake flour (6%)

– white sugar (18%)

– sugar beans (24%)

– salt (10%)

– potatoes (11%)

– frozen chicken pieces (2%)

– curry powder (21%)

– stock cubes (11%)

– soup (15%)

– tea (17%)

– brown bread (3%)

When the prices of core foods increase, consumers have less money to secure other important mostly nutritionally-rich foods, which are essential for health and well-being and strong immune systems.

According to data from the index, the core foods contribute 54% of the total cost of the Household Food Basket.

In March 2024, the average cost of household core foods was R2,821.58. These core foods are relatively very expensive in comparison to the total money available in the household to secure food.

Regardless of the price hikes in food prices, these foods must be purchased.

The high cost of core staple foods result in a lot of proper nutritious food being removed off the family plates.


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