The effect of food pricing in South Africa

There are two kinds of Capetonians. Those that believe that Cape Town is evidently one of the best run municipalities in the country and those that believe that the DA solely focuses on anything but the poor. Although the city may be excellently run to some, there is a noticeable trend of residents of Cape Town who are unable to feed themselves. According to StatsSA, the unemployment rate is at 21.1% meaning people are earning little to no money resulting in the risk of starvation.

To add to the situation, is the concept of inflation which no one can escape. The Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) assume that maize meal pricing has increased by 30% and that it could very well increase as the months go by – bad news for poor and impoverished consumers who rely on maize meal heavily. The poor are constantly hit the hardest by the increase of food prices because the majority of the food consumed is linked to farming. Droughts, especially in the Western Cape because of the weather, are a threat and affect the pricing of staple and basic food items. In terms of vegetables and fruit, the fresh produce industry  relies heavily on fuel (diesel) and if there is a fuel hike, it impacts the sector a lot. These fuel hikes combined with droughts create a domino effect in the increase of food supply. It is estimated that in 2015, a food basket consisting of 10 food products would have cost between R187 – R224 and now in 2016, it’s rose to between R214 and R240.

Basic food basket (pricing) Photo credit: StatsSA and BFAP

A new research study done by Harvard School of Public Health shows that the healthiest diets cost about $1.50 more per day than the least healthy diets. Although this is an American study, it is evident that this is an occurrence in South Africa too. It is easier to access a fast food joint than it is to find a store dedicated to health, and the health stores that are found, like the Wellness Warehouse, have prices that are sky high due to their rent pricing and the types of products sold.

South African woman shopping Photo credit: buzzSouthAfrica
A customer pays for maize in a shop in Soweto south west of Johannesburg
A customer prepares to pay for a small bag of maize meal at a shop in Soweto south west of Johannesburg, March 23, 2008. Food prices are soaring, a wealthier Asia is demanding better food and farmers can’t keep up. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko (SOUTH AFRICA) – RTR1YUR6

As a journalist and a person who tries avidly to look out for the people of my country, I have a responsibility to dig deeper and research cheaper and healthy alternatives to certain foods that may have an increase in pricing or isn’t good for someone. I could aim to gather data and graphic evidence on how healthy food can not only sustain one for longer but that it also beneficial to all in the long run. Parents need to make conscious health decisions that will influence themselves and their children for a better life and a better South Africa.

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