Food Prices and Those most Affected

South African consumers are feeling the pinch. Due to ongoing political instability, a devastating drought and a volatile global economy, South Africans are truly feeling the pressure of rising living costs. According to economists, we could be facing ongoing increases in food costs for several years to come, and lower income household pockets will feel it the most.

A Stark Picture

Since 2006, the Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action (PACSA) has been tracking the overall cost of a basket of food. Each basket consists of 36 items most lower income households purchase on a monthly basis such as milk, eggs, maize meal and bread. The food basket cost is calculated according to preferred supermarket prices and is not nutritionally complete; it is a reflection of the reality of what those of lower incomes are buying.

Typical PACSA Food Basket:

Recent drought and political events have seen the cost of basic food items skyrocketing in past years, with an overall increase of R198.96 from March 2016 to March 2017. This is slightly lower than the previous year’s increase of R236. Lower income households are the hardest hit as they are not able to absorb increasing food costs by making dietary changes. The more costly food items will fall out of reach.

PACSA Monthly Food Basket Costs

Below we look at five typical lower income situations and the money needed to be able to purchase a basic PACSA food basket per month – as of March 2017.

For more detail on how costs were derived please go to