Categories: LifestyleNews
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2023-12-07 7:52 AM

South Africa’s Festive Braai Season Sees Ingredient Price Relief

  • South Africa experiences a mild slowdown in the price increase of essential ingredients for traditional braais (barbecues) ahead of the festive season, notably with onion and potato prices dropping, easing the overall inflation rate for these key items.
  • The Shisa Nyama Index, tracking prices of fundamental braai ingredients, shows a moderation in inflation, influenced by supply constraints, especially concerning potatoes, although economists express optimism for a potential return to a more moderate inflation path in the future.
  • Despite economic concerns such as heightened interest rates and inflation risks, the outlook for South Africa's braai ingredients appears positive with potentially stabilizing food prices attributed to favorable weather forecasts, potentially minimizing adverse impacts on the agricultural sector.
By Miriam Matoma

As South Africans gear up for the festive season, characterized by joyful gatherings and cherished braai (barbecue) traditions, recent data indicates a mild reprieve in the price surge of essential ingredients used in these beloved culinary events. The easing of costs, particularly concerning onions and potatoes, has tempered the overall rate of increase in Bloomberg’s Shisa Nyama Index, offering a slight respite for households amidst the holiday preparations.

Renowned for their love of braais, which transition from a weekend delight to a frequent culinary affair during the extended Christmas break, South Africans closely monitor the costs of staple ingredients essential for these cherished gatherings.

The latest figures reveal a notable decline in onion and potato prices by 24% and 11%, respectively, contributing to a moderation in the overall pace of inflation to 10% last month in Bloomberg’s Shisa Nyama Index, a welcome slowdown from the 17% increase witnessed in October.

Statistics South Africa reported a nationwide food price increase of 8.8% in October compared to the same period last year. This hike in food prices has notably propelled the annual consumer price inflation to 5.9%, up from 5.4% in September.

Amidst these economic shifts, the South African central bank has elevated interest rates to a 14-year high of 8.25%, citing inflation risks as a factor necessitating prolonged maintenance of borrowing costs. The forthcoming inflation statistics, set to be unveiled on Dec. 13, will offer further insights into the nation’s economic trajectory.

The Shisa Nyama Index, curated by the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity Group (PMBEJD), meticulously tracks the prices of essential ingredients integral to a traditional South African braai, encompassing potatoes, cooking oil, cornmeal, carrots, tomatoes, frozen chicken, beef, and “wors” – a locally popular sausage crafted from ground meat offcuts.

This index derives its data from exhaustive surveys conducted across 47 supermarkets and 32 butcheries in key areas catering to the low-income demographic, spanning Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, Pietermaritzburg, Springbok in the far northwest, and the northeastern town of Mtubatuba.

The recent escalation in food inflation primarily stems from supply constraints impacting select food items, notably potatoes, which despite exhibiting a significant moderation, have retained persistent pricing challenges, according to Wandile Sihlobo, chief economist of the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa.

“The recent price hike in these commodities might represent a temporary blip,” stated Sihlobo, expressing optimism that consumer food price inflation in South Africa will gradually revert to a more moderate trajectory as the country navigates into 2024.

Furthermore, a promising weather forecast, indicating a potential escape from severe impacts of El Niño events within the agricultural sector, serves as an encouraging sign for stabilizing food prices, Sihlobo added.

This mild slowdown in the price increase of key braai ingredients offers a glimmer of relief for South African households as they prepare to celebrate the festive season. As the nation braces for the forthcoming economic announcements and anticipates ongoing changes in the cost of living, the prospect of stabilized food prices during this celebratory period brings a semblance of reassurance to many across the country.

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Miriam Matoma

Miriam is a freelance writer, she covers economics and government news for Rateweb. You can contact her on: Email: Twitter: @MatomaMiriam