Food price hikes may ease up ever so slightly

THERE’S could be a sigh of relief from struggling South African consumers as there are signs that upward pressure on food prices could be starting to ease, but some experts argue lower prices will not happen any time soon.
The severest drought in 30 years has been pushing prices of every­thing up, especially food, making it difficult for poor households to survive.
Several food items that have seen a dramatic increase in the past three months include black tea, which has risen by about 22.62%, frozen chicken portions, which rose by 26.77%, and tomatoes, which rose by about 19.55%.
Shoprite Group CEO Whitey Basson said some food prices have stabilised.
But it may take some time for other prices to come down.
He warned against those attempting to push through unnec­essary price increases fuelled by the frenzy emanating from recent reports about spiralling costs.
“Once relief from the drought occurs, basic commodity prices will normalise again and, combined with the rand’s recent strengthen­ing against the US dollar to levels last seen in August 2015, as a result, the price of imported products will also start easing,” he said.
He said there was a need to act strongly in the interest of consum­ers, against food price doomsayers and not tolerate food price increases which are not based on fundamentals.
However, University of the Witwatersrand economics Prof Jannie Rossouw said recent figures released by Statistics South Africa showed that food prices were rather escalating at an alarming rate.
Echoing similar sentiments was Debt Rescue’s Neil Roets.
He said that following the tough drought conditions that hit the country late last year, the pres­sure on consumer pockets has since worsened and that it was unlikely to get better any time soon.

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