Business

Urban consumers paying more for food

“We are barely keeping up, as fewer people are buying our products. In June, it was better but now that summer is here we fear the same fate of last year where our products perished.”

The latest consumer inflation data from Statistics South Africa indicates that the overall food inflation accelerated by 0.3% month-on-month (m/m) and 4.3% year-on-year (y/y) in August 2019.

As a consumer, you paid slightly more for vegetables, fruits, sugary foods, meat, bread, and cereals. These were considered the highest food inflation contributors year on year.

Richard Masenyane, a fruit and vegetable vendor from Pretoria CBD said that customers were buying fewer fruits and vegetables since April.

“We are barely keeping up, as fewer people are buying our products. In June, it was better but now that summer is here we fear the same fate of last year where our products perished.”

According to a senior agricultural economist at FNB Paul Makube, its latest update on weekly prices across the major fresh produce markets showed a mixed trend. “Fruits posted modest gains while the vegetable category saw losses across most commodities as demand slipped towards midmonth.”

Monthly fruit inflation decreased, falling by 1.5% month on month and decelerated to 4.3% year on year from 6% in July 2019. Vegetable inflation also continued to decelerate coming in down 0.5% month to month.

“Vegetables that posted sharp losses were tomatoes and carrots with decreases of 17% and 11% week-on-week (w/w) respectively to close at R6.79/ kg and R2.91/ kg. However, tomatoes were slightly higher by 2.1% y/y while carrots remained on the downside and fell by a whopping 25% y/y,” Makube said.

Rural consumers still paid more for food products like white sugar, margarine spread and peanut butter. On the other hand, urban consumers paid 42 cents on average for some of the food items.

As predicted before, the fuel price increase played a role compounded by the low livestock slaughtering which saw meat price inflation gain 0.7% – higher than a year ago.

There are still continued fears that despite the expected summer rains, food prices may still go up.

Richard Masenyane and other hawkers are doubtful that the price for fruits and vegetables will fall as it is a season wherein prices normally skyrocket. “This is our daily bread and if we run out of business because of low customer demand, where will we go.”

Makube was also pensive saying that from an inflation perspective, it still “appears that there is still a limited upside for both fruit and vegetable inflation in the short to medium especially given prospects of a normal to above normal rainfall deep into the summer period.”

Urban consumers paying more for food
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