South Africans are paying nearly five percent more for a basic food basket compared to seven months ago, according to the latest Household Affordability Index for March, compiled by the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity Group (PMBEJD).

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The Household Affordability Index tracks food price data every month from 44 supermarkets and 30 butcheries, in Johannesburg, Durban, Pietermaritzburg, Cape Town and Springbok in the Northern Cape.

According to the index’s findings, the cost of the average household food basket increased by R38,39 (1%) from R4 001,17 in February 2021 to R4 039,56 in March 2021.

Over the past seven months, the cost of the average household food basket increased by R183,22 (4,8%) from R3 856,34 in September 2020 to R4 039,56 in March 2021.

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With a massive fuel price hike and electricity price increases kicking in this month, the PMBEJD argued that annual wage adjustments for workers paid at the National Minimum Wage level and people accessing social grants were simply not enough, and more needed to be done to tackle inflection.

“In comparison, the National Minimum Wage was increased by 4,5%, with a monthly Rand-value increase of R163,68 in March 2021. Pensioners will get a 1,6% increase or R30 in April 2021. Mothers raising children will get a 2,2% increase or R10 in April 2021.

“Food price hikes are outpacing increases in baseline wages and social grants. We expect that this upward trend in food prices is likely to continue,” the organisation said in a statement.

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