It is going to be an expensive Christmas for consumers. Durban counselling agencies and economists have painted a gloomy picture of this festive season as food prices rise, and have urged the “working middle class” to spend cautiously at this time. The prices of food essentials rose more than 2 percent in the past month, according to Mervyn Abrahams, director of the Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action (Pacsa), who runs a monthly food price barometer.
You know the story. You go to the supermarket and come out with less than expected, having paid more than you had budgeted for. Food inflation has risen rapidly over the past year, fueled by the drought, a weak rand and, some say, market manipulation by retailers. A 25kg bag of maize meal – South Africa’s staple food – has increased by almost a third in the past year, now costing R225, 82. Meanwhile, onions cost 75% more and potatoes 70% more than a year ago. “The prices really get your heart beating. All of the big things have gone up,” a woman told the Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action (PACSA), which monitors the cost of food.
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published by Daily Maverick on 24 Oct 2016
Families are either eating less or going into debt as a means to put food on the table. Mervyn Abrahams, director of the Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action (Pacsa) listed the foods and the increase in price. “Maize meal has increased by 32%, rice by 19%, sugar 28% and cooking oil 22%. Food prices are increasing substantially. The drought has had a major impact together with the fluctuations of the rand/dollar exchange.”
to the podcast of the interview on Cape Talk Radio on 14 October 2016
Listen to a podcast on Morning Talk Live on SAFM radio on the National Minimum Wage in which PACSA’s Mervyn Abrahams was one of the panelists.
 Data sourced from Stats SA Quarterly Labour Force Survey, Q2, 2016 & Stats SA Mid-year population estimates, 2016.
 Data sourced from Stats SA Quarterly Labour Force Survey, Q2, 2016 & Stats SA Mid-year population estimates, 2016 & STATS SA General Household Survey 2015, 2016.
 The transport costs will be much higher if workers live further from work.
 Note that these figures exclude the cost of servicing debt, health care, rent, emergencies, amongst others.