Between 2015 and 2019, the cost of a thrifty healthy food basket rose by 19%, and rising food prices come alongside a record high in unemployment, writes Jabulani Sikhakhane.
It is very expensive to be poor in South Africa. And economic data shows it. Take food. Recent data from Statistics South Africa shows food inflation for August up 6.9%. This is a level not seen since 2017, according to the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy.
The increases in the cost of food come at a time when unemployment is at a record high. Of the more than two million jobs shed during the second quarter of 2020 – the depth of the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown measures adopted to reduce opportunities for the spread of the virus, only 793 000 had been recovered by the second quarter of 2021. The South African Reserve Bank's October 2021 Monetary Policy Review cautions that the recovery of lost jobs was always going to take time.