May 2008




If you are finding that you are spending more money on food than a few months ago, you are not alone. Rising food and fuel prices is a world-wide problem that affects everyone. In the three years since 2005, food prices in South Africa have gone up rapidly. All of us must learn to be more clever and careful when buying food.

Greater need

There are different reasons for the rise in food prices. These include the fact that more people, especially in developing countries, are able to buy more food. This means the need for food is greater than what is available. Changing weather patterns, droughts and floods have meant poor grain harvests for the last few years. The political problems in the Middle Eastern countries where our petrol comes from, are causing petrol prices to rise.


The South African National Consumer Union says that food price rises usually go in cycles. Producers will act on the greater need and will plant more food, especially grains, which will help the food prices to get back to normal again.

What you can do

In the meantime, the following tips from the National Consumer Union could help you to save on food and make the best of what you can afford.

  • Shop around for cheaper food. Look for specials and marked down items in supermarkets. Watch out for specials in the daily newspapers.
  • Don’t buy what you don’t really need. Buy only what you need and don’t let it spoil.
  • Vegetables are plentiful at the moment because of good rainfall. The price of potatoes has dropped and they are a healthy starch that can be prepared in many delicious ways.
  • When buying bread, check the prices on the shelf. Don’t buy bread that is wrapped and cut. An unwrapped loaf of uncut brown bread should weigh 8oo grams. It has no VAT onit and it is cheaper to produce so it should be about 20 per cent cheaper than wrappedbread.
  • When buying meat, the forequater cuts of beef are usually cheaper and can be cooked in different ways. Avoid expensive cuts. Look out for specials.
  • Use left-over food in other dishes like sauces, gravy and soup.
  • Plant vegetables in your yard. Follow the advice of Finance Minister, Trevor Manuel, who called on people to do their own survival farming if they have small pieces of land.
  • Groups like the Food Gardens Foundation and Food and Trees for Africa teach people to plant vegetables on such land.

-Louise van Niekerk.


When cooking, wait until the water boils, then reduce the temperature to save energy

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