JOHANNESBURG, (The Southern African Times) – Statistics South Africa has published its latest consumer price index, showing that headline inflation slowed to 2.9% in February from 3.2% in January.
This is the third time in the past 12 months that the annual rate has slipped below the bottom end of the South African Reserve Bank’s inflation target range. Inflation was below this 3% level in May and June last year.
Medical insurance is the single biggest item in the CPI basket, taking up 7.6% of total household spending. The average annual increase across medical aid schemes surveyed in February 2021 was 4.7%, substantially lower than the rate recorded in February 2020 (9.6%).
After four consecutive months of price decline, fuel recorded a month-on-month rise in prices in January. Prices increased further in February, rising by 5.2% month-on-month. The price of inland 95-octane petrol increased by 81 cents to R15.67 per litre between January and February.
Annual inflation for food and non-alcoholic beverages was 5.2% in February, down from the 12-month high of 6% recorded in December. The monthly increase of 0.3% in February is lower than that recorded in January (0.7%).
Some of the largest annual price increases (February 2020 vs February 2021) were recorded for the following goods and services:
- Beef offal: +35.6%
- Sweet potatoes: +28.3%
- Dried beans: +26.2%
- Broccoli: +22.6%
- Cauliflower: +18.4%
- Lettuce: +18%
- Whiteners: +17.6%
- Fresh whole chicken: +15.7%
- Beef steak: +14.7%
- Sour milk: +14.1%
- Sweets: +13.1%
- Sunflower oil: +13.1%
- Chocolate bar: +13.0%
- Mushrooms: +13.0%
- Maize-based drinks: +12.9%
At 4.6%, annual bread and cereals inflation was slightly off from its own 12-month high of 5.1% in January. White bread prices increased by 8% while super maize meal prices declined by 3.5%.
Prices for milk, eggs and cheese products increased by 6.4% from February 2020. The annual rate has been above the 5.5% level since October.
The average price of a two-litre carton of fresh full-cream milk increased from R28,03 in February 2020 to R29.27 in February 2021. Half a dozen eggs would have set you back an average of R19.03 in February 2021, higher than the R15.87 recorded in February 2020.
Annual inflation for oils and fats was 10.6% in February 2021, the highest rate since November 2016. In contrast, fruit inflation hit its lowest annual rate in 14 months. Vegetable prices declined by 0.7%.