South Africa’s consumer price index (CPI) climbed 3.3% in annual terms in October, driven largely by rising prices for food and non-alcoholic beverages.
This is the biggest annual rise since March, when the rate was 4.1%, Statistics South Africa said on Wednesday (25 November). The monthly increase in October was 0.3%, edging up from 0.2% recorded in both September and August.
Prices in the food and non-alcoholic beverages category jumped by 1.4% on average between September and October, leading to a 5.4% annual increase.
This is the biggest annual rise for this category since September 2017 when the country was emerging from the drought.
Some of the largest annual price increases were recorded for:
- Fruit (13.9%);
- Oils and fats (9.7%);
- Sugar, sweets and desserts (9.7%);
- Tobacco (7.7%);
- Insurance (7.6%);
- Financial services (7.4%);
- Milk, eggs and cheese (6.5%);
- Water (6.0%);
- Electricity (6.0%).
All food categories recorded above headline increases in October with the exception of bread and cereals, which registered an increase on par with the headline rate (3.3%).
There was also a sizeable gap between hot and cold in the annual inflation rates for non-alcoholic beverages: 6.1% for hot drinks, and 1.7% for cold.
At the other end of the spectrum, tourism and travel activity continues to be subdued as the country slowly eases its lockdown restrictions.
A number of categories in the inflation basket recorded an annual fall in prices in October, most notably fuel (-9.1%), package holidays (-3.7%) and hotels (-3.3%).
The cost of a cup of tea
Drawing specific attention to some of the increases, Stats SA highlighted that tea was the main driver behind the rise in hot beverage prices.
Black tea prices jumped by 3.9% in October compared with September, resulting in an annual rise of 10.4%. Prices of popular condiments have also risen sharply.
Milk prices have seen large increases, with full cream long-life milk 8.1% more expensive than it was a year ago. The price of white sugar increased by 13.9% over the same period.
The price of filling your kettle and switching it on to boil has also risen. Municipal water and electricity tariffs both increased on average by 6.0% when they were surveyed in July.
Rooibos tea, on the other hand, has risen at a much slower 3.3% over the last year. However, despite the slower growth in price, rooibos is more expensive than black tea.
Rooibos will set you back an average of 57 cents per tea bag, if we assume that a typical tea bag contains 2.5g of tea. Black tea is priced at 35 cents per bag on average.