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Fruit, cheese, and especially maize meal are all a lot more expensive

| Economic factors

A basket of food tracked by the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) showed annual inflation of 4.1% in August on average – but some foods grew much more expensive than that.

At the retail level maize meal is 20% more expensive than a year ago, apples are up 16%, and sugar is almost 14% more expensive.


Eggs – and beef offal and chicken giblets – are among the few products that are cheaper than a year ago.

The price of maize meal, apples, cheese and sugar have all skyrocketed in the past year, but instant coffee and margarine are both a little cheaper, new numbers from the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) show.

The NAMC tracks the retail prices of a basket of 28 items on a monthly basis. On Friday it released the results for the month of August, showing that the foods it watches increased in price by an average of 4.1% since August 2018 – but with huge variation within the basket.

Double-digit year-on-year price increases were seen in:

·        super maize meal, up 20%

·         fresh apples, up 16%

·         white sugar, up 13.8%, and

·         polony, up 11.9%

Cheddar cheese was 8.5% more expensive, the NAMC says, and tinned baked beans were up by 7.6%.

Bananas were also up by 9.5%, making for a combined increase in fruit prices of 10.3% for the year.

Full cream milk, peanut butter, bananas, brown bread, and fish other than tuna all also increased in price faster than the average, and at rates well above South Africa's headline inflation number, consumer price inflation (CPI), of 4.3%.

The big increases were partially offset by marginally cheaper foods such as dried beans and individually quick-frozen (IQF) chicken portions, though none of the NAMC-tracked items decreased hugely in price.

The biggest year-on-year food price drops for August were in:

·         eggs, which were 7% cheaper

·         chicken giblets, which were 3.6% cheaper

·         margarine, which was 2.5% cheaper

·         instant coffee, which was 1.8% cheaper

·         sunflower oil, which was 1.6% cheaper

Fresh beef offal was also a little cheaper, at 0.7%, while fresh beef mince scraped in at 0.04% cheaper than in August 2018.


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