Inflation, growth of food sales, growth of market
South Africa's annual inflation rate quickened to a 30 month's high. (Image: Getty)
  • South Africa's annual consumer inflation sped to 5.4% in May, the highest in 30 months.
  • While transport is helping drive costs, food is also one of the biggest contributors to inflation.
  • Food and non-alcoholic drinks rose 6.8% with oils, meat, sugar, and vegetables getting more expensive.
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South Africa's inflation rate accelerated to 5.2% in May, to levels last seen in November 2018, StatsSA said in its latest set of data.

The figures show that the consumer price index (CPI) increased 0.1% in May from a previous 4.4% in April. Some of the main drivers of inflation were food and non-alcoholic beverages, housing and utilities, as well as transport, StatsSA said.

Excluding transport costs – which surged 15.13% – the cost of food and non-alcoholic beverages are rising the fastest ,at 6.7% higher in May.

These are the food products pushing inflation higher

Oils and fats saw the highest price increase with costs rising 20% in May, on an annual basis. When compared to the month prior, it increased 5.2%. Last month, Business Insider South Africa reported that the price of edible oils such as sunflower oil, canola oil and soya oil had shot up dramatically since January 2020. The price surge was due to a shortage of oil supply caused by poor harvests of oil producing crops globally. Sunflower oil, which is a staple in South Africa, saw the biggest price jump and had risen 70% over the period.

Annual meat prices increased 8.5% in May compared to a year ago, StatsSA said. 

In a note prepared by Momentum Investments, economist Johann van Tonder and investment research  and asset allocation head,Herman van Papendorp said meat prices would continue to rise.

"Meat prices, which increased 8.5% year-on-year in May are also bound to continue its increase due to the continual impact of years of droughts as well as sporadic outbreaks of foot and mouth disease," they said.

Last month, an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease broke out in the uMkhanyakude district, in KwaZulu-Natal.

Vegetable prices also climbed 6.6% during the period.

Koketso Mano, an economist at FNB, said inflation price rises for milk, cheese and eggs, oils and fats and meat "explain 60% of the annual acceleration in food and non-alcoholic beverages inflation".

Mano said food inflation is likely to remain elevated closer to 6%, which will continue to put pressure on the main headline inflation figure.

Sugar, sweets and desserts, and milk, cheese and eggs are among the major food categories that are also driving food prices higher. They’ve increased 8.7% and 5.7% on an annualised basis respectively. Bread and cereals rose 4.9% and fish was up 7%.

Non-alcoholic beverages now cost 5.3% more with hot beverages up 5% whole cold beverages rose 5.6%.

(Compiled by Ntando Thukwana)

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