Food prices in South Africa continue to soar – and the worst is yet to come

The latest Household Affordability Index from the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity Group (PMBEJD) shows that food prices rose in April 2022.

The group recorded its household food basket at R4,542.93 in April 2022. Month-on-month, the average cost of the basket increased by R92.84 (2.9%), from 4,450 .09 rand in March 2022. Year-on-year, the basket increased by 344.00 rand (8.2%), compared to 4,198.93 rand in April 2021.

The year-on-year increase outpaces headline inflation, and even food inflation tracked by Stats SA. The latest consumer price index for March 2022 shows headline inflation at 5.9% and food inflation recorded at 6.7%.

According to the PMBEJD, the cost of the household food basket continues to rise due to both global and local factors, with the worst yet to come.

The ongoing war in Ukraine continues to be the main global driver of rising food prices, with repercussions for energy prices – in particular the high price of brent crude oil, which is driving up prices fuel. The weaker rand is also a factor.

“Significantly higher production and logistics costs will continue to push prices higher and are expected to continue to rise for the remainder of 2022,” PMBEJD said. Recent flooding in KwaZulu-Natal was not factored into the group’s April data – as prices were collected ahead of the rains – but the natural disaster will no doubt add to increases going forward.

The group said the majority of households are forced to cut their shopping lists down to the essentials. Shoppers expressed frustration at having to shop around and haggle to get the best possible price for essential items.

“At the retail level, supermarkets have responded by rounding off higher food prices by introducing many new, cheaper brands, offering store brandsoffering promotions, offering “combos”, offering store cards, etc. “, said the group.

“We asked women if these promotions and new supermarket offers helped them buy the food they needed. The answer is mostly yes. Supermarket savings offers seem to be helping – but no one really knows the true fair price of food now.

Food prices

The PMBEJD basket includes 44 basic food items most frequently purchased by low-income households, which make up most households in the country.

Year over year, only six of those 44 items fell in price, with one remaining unchanged. The rest – 37 items – have all risen in price over the past 12 months.

These were the largest changes, where prices increased or decreased by 10% or more.

Food prices from April 2021 to April 2022 – big changes

  • Cooking oil: +42%
  • Poland: +31%
  • Liver of beef: +21%
  • Apples: +20%
  • Poultry livers: +20%
  • Butternut: +18%
  • Cremora: +16%
  • Frozen Chicken Portions: +13%
  • Margarine: +13%
  • Spinach: +14%
  • Eggs: +12%
  • Samp: +12%
  • Canned sardines: +12%
  • Fish: +11%
  • Canned beans: +10%
  • Potatoes: +10%
  • Tea: +10%
  • Tomatoes: -18%


Month-to-month changes are generally more marginal, but a few things have seen significant changes.

Overall, 33 items increased in price, seven saw their price drop, and four remained stable.

Food prices from March 2022 to April 2022 – big changes

  • Cooking oil: +18%
  • Spinach: +14%
  • Oranges: -28%


Regionally, the difference in cost of the total household food basket in Joburg, Durban and Cape Town is constant at around ±R150. Springbok and Pietermaritzburg tend to be outliers in the data (Springbok being the highest and Pietermaritzburg being the lowest).

  • Maritzburg’s basket increased by R98.31 (2.3%) and R449.65 (11.6%) year-on-year to reach R4,335.83 in April 2022
  • Cape Town’s basket increased by R75.90 (1.7%) and R308.67 (7.5%) year-on-year, to reach R4,430.42 in April 2022.
  • Joburg’s basket increased by R65.86 (1.5%) and R242.49 (5.6%) year-on-year, to reach R4,563.09 in April 2022.
  • Durban’s basket increased by R138.27 (3.1%) and R409.21 (9.8%) year-on-year, to reach R4,583.05 in April 2022.
  • The Springbok basket increased by R225.37 (4.8%) and R449.46 (10.0%) year-on-year to reach R4,960.01 in April 2022.

Read: Shopping Price War 2022: Woolworths vs Checkers vs Pick n Pay vs Spar vs Food Lovers

About Mitchel McMillan

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