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Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg: Who pays more for food?

By

Oct 28, 2021

Food prices are rising in double digits but which major SA city is more expensive to live in when it comes to the cost of groceries, Durban, Johannesburg or Cape Town?

According to the latest Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity Group’s latest Household Affordability Index food prices rose by 10,2% across the country in October. 

“The average Household Food Basket increased by R98,08 (2,3%) month-on-month, and R400,83 (10,2%) year-on-year. In October 2021, the average Household Food Basket costs R4 317,56. The rise in food prices in October is in line with our predictions and are set to continue into 2022,” PMBEJDG said in its latest food price survey report.

“The massive electricity tariff hike of around 14,59% effected in June and July 2021, had to result in price hikes of goods and services down the line. These increases are now reflecting in higher food prices on supermarket shelves,” the group said.

The October 2021 Household Affordability Index tracks food price data from 44 supermarkets and 30 butcheries, in Johannesburg (Soweto, Alexandra, Tembisa and Hillbrow), Durban (KwaMashu, Umlazi, Isipingo, Durban CBD and Mtubatuba), Cape Town (Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, Philippi, Langa, Delft and Dunoon), Pietermaritzburg and Springbok in the Northern Cape.

Cape Town saw a surge in prices this month with a R174,49 (4,2%) price increase in the cost of the basic basket of goods (4,2%) month-on-month. This was despite more moderate prices in the city over the past year.

Month on month prices rose R63,16 or 1,5% and R56,10 or 1,3% in Johannesburg and Durban respectively in October.

But when it comes to the cost of food on SA’s three big cities, Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town, it’s somewhat surprising to find that Durban is slightly more expensive than its coastal and inland counterparts.

Where is food more expensive?

The cost of the grocery basket in the three cities in October was as follows:

Cape Town – R4 280,67Johannesburg – R4 305,69Durban – R4 327,06 

The price of the food basket increased by R419,44 (10,7%) between October 2020 and October 2021 in Durban, by R359,81 (9,2%) in Cape Town and by R336,28 (8,5%) in Johannesburg for the period.

“We are also seeing some anomalies in food prices across areas, with a spike in maize meal prices in parts of Joburg and Cape Town (South Africa has a bumper maize crop this year), including higher milk, amasi and egg prices, higher poultry and meat prices, and bread prices in some areas,” the group said.

Key data from the October 2021 Household Affordability:

In October 2021 the average cost of the Household Food Basket is R4 317,56 Month-on-month, the average cost of the Household Food Basket increased by R98,08 (2,3%), from R4 219,48 in September 2021 to R4 317,56 in October 2021. Year-on-year, the average cost of the Household Food Basket increased by R400,83 (10,2%), from R3 916,72 in October 2020 to R4 317,56 in October 2021.

SA households battling financially

PMBEJDG has long expressed its concern that monthly food expenses take up a large portion of household income.

“Higher food prices, together with higher electricity prices and taxi fare hikes, are putting enormous pressure on the household purse and the family plate. The cost of the household food basket is very high and families can’t afford it. We remain in an emergency food crisis, and this crisis is set to deepen,” PMBEJDG said.

“Our problem is not only that we are going hungry but what is on our plate when there is food. The higher cost of foods has emptied out the trollies of any nutritional diversity. Women tell us that ‘whatever we have got; we eat, it doesn’t matter anymore as long as we can eat it.’  White starches, and sugar, and salt and oil fill our plates – but in time, our children’s bellies cry out for good quality meat protein, sugar beans, and dairy and eggs, calcium, vegetables and fruits, and vitamins, minerals, and fibre. We will pay a very high price for not making proper nutritious food for our children a key political priority,” PMBEJDG said.

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