Fresh staple food prices have stabilised in Durban as food pours into KwaZulu-Natal
- Prices at the Durban Market have begun to normalise following increases influenced by the unrest in the country last week.
- Potatoes which cost as much as R100 on average, have normalised to R85 per 10kg.
- Some key routes to markets were disrupted last week, and Durban was forced to halt trading for a few days.
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Prices for staple vegetables have started to normalise at the Durban Fresh Produce Market and others, due to disruptions to food supply chains caused by last week's unrest.
During last week's unrest, trucks ferrying fresh produce, some travelling on critical highways such as the N3, faced challenges delivering to markets. This disruption led to Durban Market temporarily shuttering operations on 12 July until last week Friday.
The unrest's impact on produce pricing can be seen in one category with potatoes shooting up from R53 for 10kg to as high as R100. By Friday it had come down to around R85 per 10kg.
"Prices have reverted to within a conventional band as a result of a better balance between supply and demand. With the N3 re-opening and a security presence on the road, producers and transporters were again able to deliver fresh produce to the markets," Jaco Oosthuizen, CEO for RSA Group, one of the country's leading fresh produce sales groups.
The restoration of the fresh food supply chain is welcome news considering the scale of the disruption caused by the unrest. It not only sharply reduces the chance of food shortages but also resulted in a reduction of produce prices.
Johan De Jager, managing director for Hanly Durban Market Agents, said prices for staples such as potatoes and mainly vegetables have stabilising due to the supply returning into the market.
"There is a significant drop in prices… The fact that the trucks are coming in and there's supply, prices have dropped significantly," he said.
"It's more the vegetables and the potatoes. Fruit hasn't really been [affected], fruit is not a basic necessity, it's more a luxury," De Jager said.
When the market opened, other commodities such as tomatoes and cabbages also increased due to low stock availability, Roshan Judgeve at Delta Market Agents Vegetable sales division in Durban said.
"Everything has come down, tomatoes were going for R60/R70, and now you can buy for about R40 to R45 for 6kg. Cabbages were short on Monday and Tuesday as well, they were R70/R80, and now they are R40/R50," said Judgeve.
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