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Food prices: Rising cost burden

| Economic factors

Electricity price hikes have affected the food choices of lower-income households, the 2015 Bureau for Food & Agricultural Policy Baseline report reveals.

Focus groups held by the Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action found that consumers were moving away from maize meal to rice because rice has a shorter cooking time.

“Maize meal is fortified and has greater nutritional value than rice,” said the Western Cape minister of economic opportunities, Alan Winde, in releasing the report. “In addition, the price of rice is likely to increase as the rand depreciates, which will put additional pressure on lower-income families.”

The report also says the cost of an affordable healthy eating plan for a family of four (two adults and two children) increased by 36% from January 2011 to April 2015, exceeding the rate of consumer inflation, which was 27% over the same period.

Since a significant portion of a typical SA food basket is imported, the cost will be influenced by the likely continued depreciation of the rand exchange rate. This is expected to drive food price inflation higher over the medium term despite the fall-off in commodity prices.

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