Little to beef about as prices drop

Good news for meat lovers this festive season: the prices of meat and chicken are on the decline, according to the September consumer price index (CPI).

The index, compiled by Statistics South Africa, measures monthly changes in price of a range of consumer products. Changes in the CPI record the rate of inflation.

The Mail & Guardian has compared how much consumers paid for a trolley full of products in January and how much the same products cost in September.

Not much has decreased but there are a handful of products consumers will enjoy paying less for this festive season.

The province with the highest number of cheaper goods is the Free State with 20, including fruit, vegetables and even brandy. Limpopo shoppers are the least lucky with only 11 consumables cheaper.

But, no matter which province you are in, meat prices have dropped in the past year.

Gerhard Schutte, chief executive officer of the Red Meat Producers Organisation, said the prices were in line with the havoc created by the drought that farmers have been battling with.

The Western Cape saw the prices of fresh beef fillet drop from R227.90 to R209.99 a kilogram. The price of lamb chops dropped by R5 a kilogramme.

Less lucky are the Eastern Cape shoppers who, according to CPI, are getting a R1.28 respite on fresh beef T-bone (R90.03), which is still more expensive than in Mpumalanga (R84.88).

“We did a study quite recently and found that farmers had 12% to 15% of the female livestock slaughtered. This oversupply probably hit the markets in September when there is a slight decrease in prices. Higher supply means lower prices,” said Schutte.

He added that, unlike cash crops, livestock takes about a year to show the effects of a drought and this is one of the reasons meat prices are only decreasing now. “During the first part of the year the farmers went to market for two reasons – to lower the livestock numbers and to get funds to ensure nucleus stock was taken care of,” he added.

As shoppers enjoy a respite in meat prices, other goods essential for a festive feast have also decreased. Gauteng shoppers can buy prepared custard for R25.70 – 10c less than January’s prices. Skhothane, eat your heart out.

Local beer in the Western Cape is R1 cheaper now than at the beginning of the year and in the Eastern Cape so is red wine. The luckiest provinces are Northern Cape and the Free State, where the price of cake has dropped by R4.80 and R6 respectively.

Of course, shoppers will still have to be on the lookout for the best deals out there because retailers, despite savings from suppliers, do not necessarily pass these on to cash-strapped consumers.

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Athandiwe Saba
Athandiwe Saba

Athandiwe Saba is a multi award-winning journalist who is passionate about data, human interest issues, governance and everything that isn’t on social media. She is an author, an avid reader and trying to find the answer to the perfect balance between investigative journalism, online audiences and the decline in newspaper sales. It’s a rough world and a rewarding profession.

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