Poor households spend a third of their income on food

Poor households spend a third of their income on food

Poor households spend on average R8 485 per annum on food, which accounts for roughly 34% of their total household expenditure. This contrasts sharply with non-poor households, who spend R14 020 on average per annum on food. This only constitutes 10% of their total household expenditure.

These findings form part of the poverty trends report which Stats SA released on Thursday. The report looks at various measures of poverty over the period 2006 to 2011, using data from the Income and Expenditure Surveys conducted in 2005/06 and 2010/11, and the Living Conditions Survey conducted in 2008/09.

There are distinct differences in the food items that poor and non-poor households buy. Almost 35% of poor households’ food purchases fall into the bread and cereals category, with maize meal being the most common purchase. Non-poor households on the other hand, spend only 20% of their expenditure on this category.

Inversely, poor households spend just over 22% on meat and fish, with poultry being the most common purchase accounting for almost half of that expenditure. Meanwhile, non-poor households spend almost 30% on this category, and while poultry is still the most common purchase, they also have significantly more expenditure on other items like beef, lamb and boerewors. This shows that non-poor households have much more variety in their food purchases than what poor households do.

This trend of greater variety in the spending of non-poor households shows itself clearly in the fruits and vegetables category. While both poor and non-poor households spend the same proportion of their budgets (12,3%) in this category, potatoes are the most common purchase in poor households at 3,1%, while non-poor households spending is mostly in the “other” category at 5,3%.

Poor households spend 4,9% of their food expenditure on non-alcoholic beverages, as opposed to non-poor households who spend almost twice as much (8,1%). The most common purchase amongst both poor and non-poor households is aerated cold drinks.

This is only one of the many findings contained in the full report, which can be downloaded here.