‘The poor carry the burden of inflation’

2015-10-21 06:00
PHOTO: nicole john

Pacsa director Mervyn Abrahams (left) with Julie Smith during the recent Pacsa Food Barometer annual presentation.

PHOTO: nicole john Pacsa director Mervyn Abrahams (left) with Julie Smith during the recent Pacsa Food Barometer annual presentation.

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LOW-INCOME households have underspent 55.6% on food because of the struggle to secure goods and services needed to live at a level of basic dignity.

At a recent annual report presentation by Pacsa on the food price barometer it was said that low-income houses are finding it increasingly difficult to provide their families with nutritious food due to inflation.

The report, compiled by interviewing 35 women from Crossing, France, Haniville, Madiba and Snathing in various focus groups.

“Access to nutritious foods is the basis of society which leads to a person’s health, well being and productivity. The reality is that people don’t have the money to buy the food they need for a nutritious meal, they have to buy what they can afford, which is not always good for their health,” said Mervyn Abrahams, Pacsa director.

A research study, conducted by Julie Smith, revealed that the food price barometer which is the actual reality of what food costs versus what a nutritious basket, which is what people should be eating, shows a major gap. The overall food price inflation in the basket shows that the highest levels of inflation from November 2014 to September 2015 is 4.3%, increasing by R66.10.

Smith said that the issue is not that there are not foods available in the stores and supermarkets, the problem lies with the affordability.

“Often you will find that there is enough stock but that people don’t have the money to buy foods that are nutritious for them. The increases in core staples and low quality protein is extremely worrisome as low-income households are forced into buying these foods as a survival strategy given that households have insufficient income to spend on foods,” she said.

The research showed that food is one of the few items that can be controlled whereas other things such as transport, education, burial insurance, electricity and debt repayment are the priorities. This leads to the them under spending on food and often forces them to engage with loan sharks in order for them to have enough money to put food on the table at the end of the month.

“Women are increasingly borrowing money from loan sharks for food. The majority of households living on a typical income are in debt because their income doesn’t match their expenses. The role and importance of stokvels are increasing as people are looking to other means to subsidise their income,” said Smith.

The statistics showed, for instance, that 6kg of chicken neck pieces increased by a massive 66,3%, 2,5 kg of polony by 18,2%, and a tray of 30 eggs by 8,2% with staple food increasing by 6.6%, the highest increases were seen in maize, rice, sugar and salt.

“When core staple foods increase they reduce the money available for other foods resulting in a loss of diversity on the plate. The poor carries the burden of inflation,” said Abrahams

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