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Some provinces struggling to cope with rocketing food costs

The Rand's diminished buying power together with a prolonged drought has left certain provinces struggling to keep up with rocketing food costs. According to Stats SA, 22% of households in the country ran out of money to buy food some time during the 12 months prior to a 2014 general household survey.

Some provinces struggling to cope with rocketing food costs
©stokkete via 123RF
"The problem is particularly severe in North West (41%), Eastern Cape (32%) and Northern Cape (31%)," the national statistics agency says.

Stuggling agriculture

Current data points to an agriculture industry that is struggling. During November 2015, in the midst of South Africa's worst drought in 23 years, Stats SA released gross domestic product figures showing three consecutive quarters of steep decline in agricultural activity.

In the third quarter of 2015, the sharp decrease was mainly a result of falling production in field crops, such as maize, sunflowers and sugar cane.

Convern over rising food inflation grows

"The drought has forced South Africa to import maize to make up the shortfall. With Rand weakness driving up the prices of other imports such as wheat, concern has grown over rising food inflation," Stats SA said.

Households that depend on grain-based products, and households already struggling to pay for food, are likely to be affected the most.

According to Stats SA, grain-based food - which includes products made from maize, rice and wheat - account for 4.8% of total spending for the average South African household. The proportion is much larger for households in rural areas, who spend 10.8% on these staples. "Grain-based products account for over one-third of the food budget for households in rural areas. For every R100 spent on food, households in rural areas spend R37 on grain-based products. Households in primary urban areas spend R25," Stats SA said.

A provincial breakdown, which includes both urban and rural households, shows Limpopo being most affected.

For every R100 spent on food, households in the province spend an average of R39 on grain-based products, which takes into account the Eastern Cape (R33), KwaZulu-Natal (R33), Mpumalanga (R31) and North West (R28).

Source: Fin24

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