‘Food too expensive’

2017-10-26 14:10
Poor families spending less than half of what they should on food.

Poor families spending less than half of what they should on food. (File)

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Low-income residents of Pietermaritzburg are spending 54% less than they should on food.

This is according to the Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action (Pacsa), which presented its annual food price barometer on Wenesday.

The report said people were prioritising issues such as education, debt, electricity and transport ahead of food.

Among the reasons people were feeling the pinch were low wages and unemployment. It revealed that on average there were at least seven people per urban household living on low incomes in Pietermaritzburg.

In September this year, the cost of a basic but nutritional basket of food for these households cost just over R4 000 a month.

However, Pacsa found that low-income households were spending just under R2 000 on food. “It suggests that households living on low incomes are only able to secure half the foods they require each month,” said the report.

Presenting the report was Pacsa’s Julie Smith. who said two-thirds of black South Africans lived below the poverty line in 2017. She said a quarter of them could not afford to put “proper food on the table”.

Smith said that the median wage of R2 900 a month should be considered below the poverty line as the wage was dispersed among occupants of households.

She added that the scale of inflation on food “is extraordinary”.

Smith said another issue is social grant payments being too low.

“Child support is R380 a month. It is below the food poverty line.

“In September, we found the cost of feeding a child was R578 a month,” she said.

The report also found that some supermarkets were reducing the amount of produce per package without changing the price. “For example: a seven-kilogram pocket of potatoes was priced at a similar cost as what used to be the previous 10 kg pocket.

“Pacsa has been monitoring these shifts in weights — this practice has accelerated over the past year and covers many of the foods in the trollies that women say they try and buy each month,” said Smith.

“We are of the opinion that the crisis we face in both the very low level grants and the crisis in our economy is of such a grave nature ... that the state reviews and re-prioritises its entire budgetary allocations,” she added.

The foods which are seeing significant levels of inflation year on year include:

• Eggs — 5%

• Frozen chicken pieces — 36%

• Cheaper cuts of chicken feet — 50%

• Chicken necks — 44%

• Beef — 26%

• Spinach — 93%

• Cabbage — 48%

• Tomatoes — 34%

• Baked beans — 6%

• Salt — 19%

• Coffee — 7%

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  food prices

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