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Food prices affect our waistline – PACSA

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Looming food price hikes could be affecting our waistline more than we think. This is according to director of Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action (PACSA), Mervin Abrahams who conducts numerous studies into the price of food and its effects on consumers.

Abrahams, who focuses primarily on economic inequality, reiterated the findings of a study by the World Bank which found that South Africans were the biggest borrowers in the world in 2014. As a result, Abrahams told VOC consumers who fall within the middle to lower income bracket are forced to spend less on food and as such, opt for the cheaper, less nutritious items due to these factors.

“One of our main areas of work is to track the affordability of food prices. Through our studies we’ve noticed that over the last five months, our food basket (consisting of 34 basic/staple food items) has increased by 13.4% and we expect it to continue increasing in the second half of the year. This means, food is becoming even more unaffordable than it was a year ago,” Abrahams explained.

Abrahams suggests that the amount of money spent on food is the only area of expenditure which the average person can control.

“The World Bank revealed that R77 from every R100 that comes into a household gets used to service debt which means we only have R33 left and we still have other expenditures that needs to be paid. Once all these things have been paid then only we buy food,” Abrahams continued.

“Households are caught in a financial crisis. Either they cut back on the amount of food consumed or are forced to buy food that offer less dietary requirements which are often cheaper.

Furthermore, Abrahams says their research also revealed that in the last five months basic household food items have drastically increased, Maizemeal has increased by 15%, rice by 16%, flour by 14%, sugar by 13% and cooking oil by a whopping 27%.

“You buy these items because you need it and drop other things such as vegetables or fruits and that’s where the problem arises. This is causing a dangerous health crisis in our country,” Abrahams concluded.

VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)

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