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How much it costs to feed a family in South Africa each month

| Economic factors

Data from the Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action (Pacsa) shows that food prices continue to climb in South Africa, with households struggling to keep up.

The Pacsa food price inflation basket tracks the affordability of food and other essential household requirements for working class households, in a context of low wages, social grants and high levels of unemployment.

The basket itself is not nutritionally complete, rather reflecting on the reality of what the working class in South Africa can afford. A second basket, which is nutritionally complete, is also included to further highlight the disparity between what people need and what they can afford.

The Pacsa food basket of 36 basic foods showed a 10% increase or R198.96 over the past year to R2,068.35 in March 2017.

The social action group argues that the R3,500 proposed National Minimum wage, when dispersed through a family of 4 people is R875 per person – below the current upper bound poverty line of R1,077 per month.

For Black South African households, the food basket for a family of 4 people (R2,562.38) would take up 73% of the R3,500 proposed national minimum wage.

In March 2017, the difference in cost between a food basket (not nutritionally complete) versus one that is nutritionally complete is R2,412.41 (R2,068.35 vs R4,480.76), Pacsa said.

This, it continued, has implications for health and well-being because there is a direct connection between the food we eat and how our bodies function.

Monthly costs of a food basket for families of various sizes, ages and life stages for March

In March 2017 the cost of a food basket for a family of 4 is R2,562.38, for a family of 5 is R3,237.08 and for a family of 7 is R4,480.76.

Inflation on the Pacsa Minimum Nutritional Food Basket for families of between 4-7 members is 6% year-on-year.

In March 2017 the cost of feeding a small child (aged 3-9 years) a diet complete in minimum nutrition is R578.45 per month, Pacsa said.

The cost of feeding a girl/boy child (aged 10-13 years) or an adult woman (aged 19-64 years) or an elderly woman (aged >65 years) a diet complete in minimum nutrition is R6,26.57 per month.

Monthly costs of a food basket showing prices over the last three months; month-on-month; and year-on-year

The cost of feeding a girl (aged 14-18 years) or a very active woman (aged 19-64 years) or an adult man (aged 19-64 years) or an elderly man (aged >65 years) a diet complete in minimum nutrition is R6,65.24per month.

The cost of feeding a boy (aged 14-18 years) or a very active man (aged 19-64 years) or a pregnant or lactating woman a diet complete in minimum nutrition is R7,40.25 per month, Pacsa said.

Income and expenditure for households of various socio-economic scenarios: March 2017

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