WITH low economic growth putting food supply chains under pressure, consumers are battling and many are unable to cope with price hikes, experts say.
Marais said most South African consumers were struggling to make ends meet and retailers were feeling the impact.
"The average grocery trolley in the supermarket cost just over R400 in December, which was up by only 1.6 percent from the previous period. This indicates consumers are cutting back as this increase is more than 4 percentage points below the inflation rate."
Since 2008, electricity tariffs had increased by 78 percent. Other increases, including above-inflation municipal rate hikes and fuel price hikes, made it impossible to keep up.
"Adding to this are medical schemes' annual increases and lower payouts, forcing consumers to cancel their medical schemes or go on to cheaper options… (It is) an additional burden on public hospitals, which cannot deliver.
"Our farmers are not taken care of. They are the people who are responsible for food security and yet they don't get help from the government. We have lost many farmers and are forced to import meat and many other food products, which inevitably leads to higher prices."
Transport costs had to be added. Not only had fuel prices increased dramatically, but industry and consumers in Gauteng had been hit by the introduction of e-tolling, which had affected regional transport costs far more than the combined fuel price increases over several years.
"In the affected classes, consumers balance their budgets by paying off their commitments first and then using the remainder for consumables. This explains why the overall takings of supermarkets have risen so little, in spite of price increases. Consumers are simply unable to spend more."
A survey by online credit provider Wonga.com
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