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If you’ve been shocked by the cost of your groceries recently, you’re not alone. A few essential items now cost an ‘arm and a leg’, and South Africans are having to make difficult decisions about their already strained budgets.
Do you go for cheaper washing powder, or try to find a more budget-friendly feminine hygiene product? (Let’s face it, even with the 0% VAT, sanitary pads cost a fortune!) How do you make sure your family’s needs are still met?
Research by the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity Group (PMBEJD) shows that the cost of the average Household Food Basket has increased by R57,85 between July and August. This brings the total cost of an average basket to R3 470,99.
With thousands having lost their jobs, or received a pay reduction during the Covid-19 pandemic, this increase in essential goods is the last thing South Africans need.
Even when we try to adapt, and ‘buy cheaper’, there’s a price to pay.
“Women consider a myriad of factors when choosing the food that gets put into the trolley,” says Mervyn Abrahams, Programme Coordinator at PMBEJD. “Moving to cheaper brands is not that simple.”
Core staple foods carry the highest risk because:
Here are the specific complaints about buying cheaper brands (as identified in the PMBEJD study)
“When tallying up the negative consequences it is often cheaper just to stick with the known and preferred brand,” says Abrahams.
“However, we are seeing greater shifts towards cheaper brands as a survival strategy because women whilst able to work through the obstacles that the cheaper brands bring; are not able to work through the fact that there is too little money available. Women tell us that they will switch back to their preferred brand ‘as soon as they get back on their feet.’”
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