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Food price inflation: Get ready to pay R3000 for the 29 cheapest items

| Economic factors

Food prices are rocketing due to the drought and the falling rand, and by next year the average South African family of four can expect to pay about R3000 for 29 of the cheapest food items.

That’s according to independent research group the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP), which released its baseline 2018-2027 data.

The impact of policy uncertainty around land reform and the drought were the central focus of this year’s report.

Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde said rising oil prices and a depreciating exchange rate mean that the cost of fuel and fertiliser have increased and fast growth in the agricultural sector will not be simple.

“Food price inflation is expected to increase until the end of 2019, stabilising at around 5.5%. The largest contributors to food price inflation will be meat, oils, breads and cereals.”

The BFAP report models a “thrifty balanced food basket” of 29 items which consumers may likely buy and which combine all the food groups. Its “thrifty” basket is cheaper and includes more staple food items such as maize, beans and lentils.

Average price basket was R2714 in 2017, between January and April 2018, it cost R2764 while the 2019 projection is R2928.

Winde said this year’s VAT increase has also hit consumers.

“The BFAP researchers determined that the price difference in the thrifty basket at 14% VAT and at 15% VAT for the four person family was R6.35 per month. This equates to 16 single servings of maize meal.

“The BFAP researchers also considered the affordability of various meat products.

“Pilchards per single serving unit are still the most affordable meat option for South Africans (although the price per single serving rose by 12% between 2015 and 2018).” He said polony is the second most affordable meat (which increased by 17% between 2015 and 2018), followed by individual quick frozen chicken portions.

“These however, work out 183% more expensive per single serving than pilchards.” The BFAP report indicates that chicken consumption is expected to expand by 27% by 2027 due to it being a fairly affordable, healthy meat source.

Beef consumption, Winde said, is expected to grow by 24% by 2027.

“I don’t think we’ve ever had a BFAP report like this one, the drought and the uncertainty around land reform have been a preoccupation in the agricultural industry and this report deals with those realities.”

Agri Western Cape chief executive officer Carl Opperman said the debate around land expropriation without compensation is aggravating the problem in agriculture.

“We are seeing that there is less investing in agriculture and there are people who are asking whether they should invest in the country. Expropriation won’t work because the problem does not lie with the farmers.

“It lies with the State that is being looted by corrupt individuals.

“To expropriate land will cost us dearly.”

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