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According to Stats SA food prices will continue to rise

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The key drivers behind this uptick were meat, fruit, milk, eggs and cheese.

Cape Town – It will cost more to put food on the table after South Africa’s food price inflation accelerated to 4.4% year on year (y/y) in March, from 4.2% y/y in the previous month. The key drivers behind this uptick were meat, fruit, milk, eggs and cheese.

Despite this increase however, according to Statistics SA, the annual consumer price index (CPI) inflation nudged lower to 4.1% in March, down from 4.6% in February, ending a run of increases since November.

CPI is calculated based on the weighted average price of a basket of goods and services, but because all data for the CPI are collected in the first three weeks of each month, data collection for March was completed before the lockdown.

Stats SA chief director for price statistics Patrick Kelly said: “The lockdown regulations in effect till the beginning of May have dramatically restricted the goods and services available for purchase by consumers.”

Chief economist of the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa Wandile Sihlobo said: “What will matter most for the direction of food price inflation this year are developments in the grains, meat markets and fruit.

“These three food categories account for nearly two-thirds of South Africa’s food price inflation basket.

“There are prospects of good fruit harvests this year, with the citrus industry noting a 13% y/y increase in available supplies for export markets.

“Amid Covid-19, especially within the EU and Asia region – important markets for South African fruit exports – any glitches in supply chains would result in an increased supply for the local market, lowering prices.

“This would be good for a consumer, but the inverse can be said

for farmers.”

The March data included the quarterly survey of rental and owners’ equivalent rent inflation, which account for a combined weight of 16.8% of the CPI basket.

@MwangiGithahu

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Cape Argus