By Arnold Prinsloo, CEO of Eskort (Pty) Ltd
South Africa has faced its highest petrol price surge in history with a litre of petrol costing more than R20, which is directly impacting the price of food.
The basic fuel price reflects the costs of purchasing petroleum products from international markets, and the costs related to shipping these products to South Africa. This cost is largely influenced by the international price of crude oil, a weak rand-dollar exchange rate and high local taxes. But while the spread of globalisation means economic tremors in one part of the world have a bearing across the globe, escalating food prices have been further exacerbated by supply chains’ reliance on fuel in delivering goods to our shops and homes.
Notably, according to the Automobile Association of SA (AA), the price of 93 unleaded petrol inland has risen by 91.8% in recent weeks, 60% in the past five years, and 41% in the last year alone.
Food prices are further under huge pressure as South Africa also faces additional challenges in the form of the global shipping crisis; higher electricity tariffs (15.6%), with more tariff hikes looming; the additional costs of sourcing backup supplies amidst load-shedding; and the country’s ailing railway system, which has led to most goods being transported by road and therefore incurring petrol costs.
These factors have increased the cost of many inputs into agriculture, including production, processing, storage, transportation, and packaging, which in turn have exponentially increased the cost of putting food on the table.
While increases will be seen across the food spectrum, they will be most visible in the meat and fresh produce segment due to the high frequency of distribution and demand of these products.
A Knorr commissioned study found that South Africa has a meat-eating culture with meat being eaten on average of four times per week. Some 84% of the population are meat-eaters and, on average, each South African eats more than 58kg of meat every year, compared with around 40kg in 1994.
But although the cost of food and particularly quality protein remains a huge concern for consumers, meat-lovers will find it encouraging that pork prices have decreased over the past 12 months. A recent Standard Bank Livestock report even stated that pork prices have shed as much as 7.8% year-on-year.
However, it is not just food price increases that threaten South Africans’ sustenance needs but the nutritional value of what is being consumed. When consumers have to choose how to stretch their limited rands, quantity is often prioritised over nutritional quality.
Pork remains a viable, affordable, healthy, high-protein alternative, priced on average about 33% lower than beef and less than 50% of the cost of lamb or mutton.
To this end, pork remains one of the most affordable sources of meat protein and offers multiple nutritional benefits. The protein content of lean pork can be as high as 89%, making it one of the richest dietary sources of protein. Pork also contains all nine essential amino acids necessary for your body’s growth and maintenance.
And unlike most other types of red meat, such as beef and lamb, pork is particularly rich in thiamine, one of the B vitamins essential for a healthy brain and immune system, while also packing a healthy concentration of zinc.
With rising costs permeating through every element of the economy, to be resilient and economical, conscious consumers need become more price savvy and make healthier choices to get more bang for their buck, like purchasing pork this festive season.
Arnold Prinsloo is one of South Africa’s leading food industry experts, with over 20 years of experience in the field.