The Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) reported that food price inflation in July was 9.9%, down from 11% the previous month. This is the fourth consecutive monthly decline since food inflation peaked at 14% in March 2023.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that July’s decline was influenced by less intense bouts of power cuts (load shedding) and a decline in the monthly fuel price. Both have got worse since then, with load shedding increasing and fuel prices rising sharply in September. Another big rise is predicted for October.
Then there’s the agricultural outlook, with food production likely to be affected by the El Nino weather phenomenon, which usually brings hotter and drier weather to South Africa for three or four years. The impact this year might not be as bad as some had feared, says agricultural economist Wandile Sihlobo, but what about the years to come? El Nino usually brings drought, and the last one in 2014-2016 was devastating.
South African consumers, and particularly low-income households, will continue to struggle for a long time to come.