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The latest Household Affordability Index from the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity forum makes concerning reading.
The annual price increase of the average Household Food Basket increased by 7,3%. Core staples such as mielie meal, rice, flour, sugar, beans, samp, cooking oil, salt, potatoes, onions, frozen chicken portions, tea and bread have gone up 7.7%.
Only once the core staples have been purchased can consumers allocate money to other critically important foods essential for nutrition, such as diary, fruit and vegetables. The rising prices mean that families are losing out on essential nutrients for health and well-being.
India has banned rice exports in order to stabilise their domestic prices, which has led to a steep rise in rice prices in South Africa.
Rice has remained a crucial staple, however, because it can be cooked even through unpredictable electricity through loadshedding.
General inflation was 4.7% but food inflation was 10%.
National Minimum Wage
The upper limit of the National Minimum Wage for a general worker is R4 473.92. One wage typically supports four people, which means R1 118.48 per person, which is below the poverty line. Electricity and transport take up 55,7% of wages, which means that a family of four gets R495.75 per person per month, which is below the food poverty line of R760.00. And the cost of a basic nutritious diet for a child is R900.
The August taxi riots in the Western Cape had a major impact on consumers in that area. Shopping patterns were disrupted due to the lack of transport: instead of being able to buy in bulk, consumers were forced to buy smaller, more expensive portable volumes from nearby shops.
The taxi strike showed that most families have no buffer against crisis. As shown previously with the KZN riots, social unrest has a direct cost to poor and marginalised families.
The Mail and Guardian unpacked this report, and stressed the role that retailers could play by keeping the prices of staples down.
Chicken Prices to Rise
Despite chicken already rising in price, more price rises are on the horizon, according to RCL CEO Paul Cruikshank. He refers to the ever-rising price of raw materials and loadshedding as the major costs in production.
Clean energy from chicken waste
A study in the UK is investigating how waste from chicken farms can be used to generate clean energy.
Avian Flu Barometer
Avian flu continues its unstoppable march across the world with the latest cases being reported in Russia.
In South Africa, a new strain of Avian Flu has been identified in local flocks, which is extremely concerning, and the latest outbreak has been reported from George.
Bird flu does not affect humans but it is deadly to poultry, and it leads to huge die-offs in local flocks which raises the spectre of food shortages.
Urgent action is needed to deal with rapidly-spreading and rapidly-evolving strains.
New improved Rainbow plant at Hammarsdale
The Rainbow poultry plant in Hammarsdale, KZN, re-opened amid much fanfare, with an undertaking to expand their capacity and create more jobs.
The plant re-opened with a major overhaul after being downsized in 2017.
The plant has managed to evade loadshedding through a special concession from Eskom, and is also separating from its parent company RCL Foods.
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The Ukraine/Russia war continues to disrupt grain supplies, which is leading to a crisis in feed costs in South Africa.
The rising cost of chicken feed has put huge pressure on the cost of producing chicken. But there is a glimmer of hope as our agricultural sector reports increasing crop yields in feed production.