Basic food prices - up and down

2017-11-08 06:01
PHOTO: Makhosandile zuluShopper Sphindile Magubane compares prices while shopping at Save You Powertrade recently.

PHOTO: Makhosandile zuluShopper Sphindile Magubane compares prices while shopping at Save You Powertrade recently.

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THE annual report - the food price barometer - released last week by the Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action (Pacsa) revealed that low-income PMB households are spending 54% less than they should on food.

The agency surveys food prices using two categories - the Pacsa Food Basket and the Pacsa Minimum Nutritional Food Basket.
The former keeps track of 36 basic food prices, which, with an average size of seven in the family, are bought monthly.

“The Pacsa Food Basket tracks the monthly price of food in the trolleys of households living on a low income. It is specifically designed to measure food price inflation experienced by households living on low incomes,” the report states.

The Maritzburg Echo asked shoppers at Save You Power Trade on Pietermaritz Street how the food price inflation has affected them.

Maize meal cost R225.82 per 25kg in September 2016 and R191.15 per 25kg in September 2017. Rice also went down by R6.50 from last year’s R80.16 to R73.66 per 10kg this year.

Flour in the same period decreased by R2.33 to R79.32 per 10kg, cooking oil went down from R77.99 to R73.99 per four litres this year. Between September 2016 and September 2017 white sugar increased by R2.83 to R139.65 per 10kg.

A six-kilogram pack of chicken portions increased by R47.52 bringing it to R178.47 as at September 2017.

Pacsa says although prices have dropped between September 2016 to September 2017, with significant drops occurring over the past three months, prices are still much higher than “pre-drought figures”.

A table “illustrating the long period of pressure” on buyers before prices began going down in the middle of this year shows that the average price of maize meal from September 2016 to June 2017 was R231 per 25kg, the mean cost of rice being R76.19 per 10kg, with flour averaging R82.72 per 10kg and four litres of cooking oil at around R80.16.

Agrinett Maphala, from Snathing, said she has to stretch her pension to provide for her family of eight, which barely lasts her until month end forcing her to rely on loan sharks. She said she has made several sacrifices and no longer includes fresh fruit, milk and tea in her shopping basket.
“If I did not make these sacrifices my children will go hungry,” Maphala said.

Phindile Mtolo from Dambuza with a family of 10 said besides essential groceries being costly, toiletries are also very expensive.

“Everything is expensive these days, eggs too have gone up,” Mtolo said.

According to Pacsa the average price for 30 eggs between July 2017 and September 2017 was R42.43, an increase from R39.32 as of September 2016.

“The increase in food prices is really frustrating,” said Thobekile Mbanjwa from Nhlazatshe looking through advertisements for grocery specials, a practice she said she no longer overlooks when compiling her grocery list. “Last year things were a bit better, now I only buy important food items,” said the mother of four.

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