Double digit Individually Quick Frozen (IQF) chicken price increases spell bad news for consumers the South African National Consumer Union (SANCU) has warned.

SANCU vice chairperson Cliff Johnston said it was concerning that food price inflation had exceeded the overall consumer price index (CPI) which is the rate at which goods and services increase in prices. He was reacting to the latest National Agricultural Marketing Council Food Price monitor which revealed that food prices had increased by a whopping 9,8% in January compared to January 2020.

“It is worrying that food price inflation has exceeded the overall inflation rate (CPI) for nearly a year now and currently stands at 5,4% vs the CPI’s 3,2%,” he said.

“This is always bad news for those living on limited means and tight budgets.  It is perhaps comforting to note that this trend is in line with many other countries, suggesting common causes, the most obvious of which are the economic effects of COVID-19 on the global economy,” he said.

He added that extreme global weather conditions may be another factor.

Rising IQF chicken price a concern

Johnston said the rising price of IQF chicken, a protein staple for many poor households, was concerning.

“SANCU notes that the price of IQF chicken portions has increased by 14,6% year-on-year.  This is very bad news for many consumers, as this forms an important source of protein for the poor,” he said.

“Last year SANCU publicly predicted that this would happen as a direct result of increasing the tariffs on imported chicken, but was shouted down by local producers who assured the authorities that they would keep prices in check,” Johnston said.

“The large increase in meat prices may be attributed to shortages caused by farmers focusing on rebuilding their herds now that the drought has been broken in most parts of the country.  SANCU expects prices to stabilise, and hopefully reduce, once this has been achieved.”

Johnston added that food price increases recorded in January, although more pronounced, were in line with trends seen in recent years.

“There has been a growing tendency towards pre-Christmas sales as opposed to New Year sales, and shifting the price increases from December to January.  Market forces can be expected to result in more normal prices from February,” he said.

Hopefully, some price stability will also see IQF chicken prices slowing down.

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Presh JM Reporter

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