Food prices continue to surge with eggs, fish and sugar costing 5% more
Eggs, salt, white sugar, potatoes and apples cost struggling South Africans an additional 5% or more in July.
This is according to the latest household affordability index report compiled by the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity Group.
It tracks food price data from 47 supermarkets and 32 butcheries, in Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, Pietermaritzburg, Mtubatuba in northern KwaZulu-Natal and Springbok in the Northern Cape.
Overall the average cost of the household food basket rose by R333.07 (7.0%) from R4,748.87 in July 2022 to R5,081.94 in July 2023.
Curry powder, fish, butternut and polony increased by 5% or more in July, while maize meal, cake flour, sugar beans, soup, full cream milk and peanut butter rose by 2% or more during the same period.
The group's Mervyn Abrahams said the wages many workers earn — R203.46 for an eight-hour day — are not enough to sustain themselves or their families.
“In July 2023, with 21 working days, the maximum National Minimum Wage (NMW) for a general worker is R4,270.56,” he said.
“Dispersed in a worker’s family of four persons, the NMW is reduced to R1,067.64 per person. This is below the upper-bound poverty line of R1,417 per person per month.
“Our calculations, using Pietermaritzburg-based figures for electricity and transport, and the average figure for a minimum nutritional basket of food for a family of four, puts electricity, and transport taking up 56.6% of a worker’s wage (R2,418.92/R4,270.56).
“Food is bought after monies for transport and electricity have been paid for or set aside, leaving only R1 851.64 for food and everything else. In July 2023, workers’ families will underspend on food by a minimum of 47.5%, having R1,851.64 left after transport and electricity, and with food costing R3,527.61.”
The higher electricity tariffs remove even more food off the plates of hardworking South Africans and their childrenMervyn Abrahams, Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity Group
Abrahams said in this scenario there is “no possibility of a worker being able to afford enough nutritious food for his or her family”.
He said higher electricity tariffs are also affecting poor households.
“All our staple foods need to be cooked, we need energy to keep warm and clean, to keep our lights on, for our appliances, and for security. Electricity payments are a non-negotiable expense.
“The higher electricity tariffs remove even more food off the plates of hardworking South Africans and their children.
“We know the annual Eskom tariff hike poses a serious threat by reducing the value of the annual NMW increment.
“To protect the annual NMW increment going forward, the National Minimum Wage Commission with the department of employment and labour would need to know what the annual Eskom tariff hike will be for the 2024/25 term, and absorb it as much as possible within the annual NMW increment to protect the wages of workers.”
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