Annual consumer inflation quickened in August, reaching 4,3% year-on-year from the 4,0% recorded in July. This was associated with higher inflation in food and non-alcoholic beverages, housing, transport and recreation.
Annual food inflation reached its highest level in 18 months, registering 3,8% in August. The pickup in food inflation was mainly driven by upward pressure from bread and cereal prices, which increased by 8,6%. This is the highest annual inflation reading for bread and cereals since February 2017 when the rate was 12,8%.
Mielie meal prices in particular have risen sharply. Super maize was 17,7% more expensive in August compared with the same month last year. Special maize prices jumped by 27,5% over the same period.
Oil-based food items – such as cooking oil and margarine – have seen price fluctuations similar to those of grain products; oil products are derived mainly from sunflowers. While annual inflation for oils and fats is currently at 4,4%, monthly inflation came in at 2,2% in August, the biggest monthly jump since January 2016.
Fish inflation is also on an upward trend. Annual fish inflation was 7,5% in August, up from 6,4% in July and 6,0% in June. Tinned fish (excluding tuna) is 8,7% more expensive than it was a year ago.
There is some good news if you enjoy non-alcoholic drinks. Prices are increasing, but not as quickly as they were a few months ago. Annual non-alcoholic beverages inflation was 5,4% in August, continuing to slow from the peak of 10,2% recorded in March.
Most municipalities set new rates and tariffs annually in July. One remaining municipality increased its electricity tariffs in August, pulling the overall electricity index to an annual rise of 11,8%. The National Energy Regulator of South Africa granted municipalities a ceiling increase of just above 13%.
The advent of private school holidays in August was associated with price increases for a number of holiday related products. Monthly increases were recorded for car rentals (up 6,2%), flights (up 2,1%), hotels (up 1,3%), and holiday packages (up 0,8%).
For more information, download the Consumer Price Index (CPI) release for August 2019 here.
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