March 2023 Household Affordability Index and Key Data

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Key data from the March 2023 Household Affordability Index

The March 2023 Household Affordability Index, which tracks food price data from 44 supermarkets and 30 butcheries, in Johannesburg (Soweto, Alexandra, Tembisa and Hillbrow), Durban (KwaMashu, Umlazi, Isipingo, Durban CBD, Hammarsdale, Pinetown, and Mtubatuba), Cape Town (Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, Philippi, Langa, Delft and Dunoon), Pietermaritzburg and Springbok (in the Northern Cape), shows that:

  • In March 2023: The average cost of the Household Food Basket is R4966,20.
  • Month-on-month: The average cost of the Household Food Basket increased by R37,87 (0,8%), from R4928,34 in February 2023 to R4966,20 in March 2023.
  • Year-on-year: The average cost of the Household Food Basket increased by R516,12 (11,6%), from R4450,09 in March 2022 to R4966,20 in March 2023.

The following foods increased in price.

Foods which increased in price in March 2023, by 5% or more, include: potatoes (8%), tomatoes (6%), and carrots (23%).

Foods which increased in price in March 2023, by 2% or more, include: frozen chicken pieces (2%), tea (3%), full cream milk (3%), maas (3%), eggs (3%), wors (2%), cabbage (3%), tinned pilchards (3%), canned beans (3%), bananas (3%), white bread (2%), and brown bread (2%).

In March 2023, food baskets decreased in Durban and Cape Town. Food baskets increased in Joburg, Springbok, and Maritzburg.

The Joburg basket increased by R96,80 (2,0%) month-on-month, and increased by R522,98 (11,6%) year-on-year, to R5020,21 in March 2023.

The Durban basket decreased by R97,19 (-2,0%) month-on-month, and increased by R426,62 (9,6%) year-on-year, to R4871,40 in March 2023.

The Cape Town basket decreased by R14,68 (-0,3%) month-on-month, and increased by R573,25 (13,2%) year-on-year, to R4927,77 in March 2023.

The Springbok basket increased by R374,42 (7,4%) month-on-month, and increased by R695,39 (14,7%) year-on-year, to R5430,03 in March 2023.[i]

The Maritzburg basket increased by R140,59 (3,0%) month-on-month, and increased by R654,84 (15,5%) year-on-year, to R4892,35 in March 2023.

Statistics South Africa’s latest Consumer Price Index for February 2023[ii] shows that Headline inflation was 7%, and for the lowest expenditure quintiles 1-3, it is 11,0%, 10,4% and 9% respectively. CPI Food inflation was 14% (for CPI Food & NAB it was 13,6%, we use the figure excluding non-alcoholic beverages). STATS SA’s Producer Price Index for January 2023[iii] shows agriculture was 10,6% [Release date of February data, 30 March 2023].


The Minister of Employment and Labour gazetted a 9,6% annual increase on the National Minimum Wage, which took effect on the 1st of March 2023. For a worker, the 9,6% increment works out to be an extra R2,23 an hour, R17,84 for an 8-hour day, and if the full working-day month is worked (average 22 days), a R392,48 monthly increase. The NMW increased by R2,23 from R23,19 per hour to R25,42 per hour.

The National Minimum Wage is R25,42 an hour and R203.36 for an 8-hour day. In March 2023, with 22-working days, the maximum National Minimum Wage for a General Worker is R4 473,92. Workers work to support their families. Dispersed in a worker’s family of 4 persons, the NMW, is reduced to R1118,48 – this is below the upper-bound poverty line of R1 417 per capita per month.

The March 2023 cost of a basic nutritional food basket for a family of four persons is R3430,75 (See page 6 of March 2023, Household Affordability Index).

On our calculations, using Pietermaritzburg-based figures for electricity and transport, and the average figure for a minimum nutritional basket of food for a family of four, puts electricity, and transport, taking up 53% of a worker’s wage (R2371,50/R4473,92). Food is bought after monies for transport and electricity have been paid for or set aside (leaving only R2102,42 – for food and everything else), and so in March 2023, PMBEJD calculates that workers’ families will underspend on food by a minimum of 38,7% (having R2102,42 left after transport and electricity, and with food costing R3430,75). In this scenario there is no possibility of a worker being able to afford enough nutritious food for her family.

If the entire R2102,42 all went to buy food, then for a family of 4 persons, we are looking at R525,60 per person. This is below the food poverty line of R663 (See page 8 of March 2023, Household Affordability Index).

In June/July 2023, when the new 2023/24 electricity tariffs of 18,65% come into effect, and thereafter in August when taxi fares are raised, workers will have to allocate a lot more money to electricity and transport, leaving less money for food and all other essential expenses. When this happens families will face dramatic food shortfalls and hardship.

Women and children

In March 2023, the average cost to feed a child a basic nutritious diet was R874,71. Over the past month, the average cost to feed a child a basic nutritious diet increased by R10,65 or 1,2%. Year-on-year, the average cost to feed a child a basic nutritious diet increased by R86,72 or 11,0%.

In March 2023, the Child Support Grant of R480 is 28% below the Food Poverty Line of R663, and 45% below the average cost to feed a child a basic nutritious diet (R874,71).

Household domestic and personal hygiene products

The March 2023 Household Domestic & Personal Hygiene Index shows a decrease of R4,71 (-0,5%) month-on-month. Year-on-year the household domestic and personal hygiene products index increased by R162,40 (21,4%) bringing the total average cost of basic household domestic and personal hygiene products to R921,80 in March 2023 (See page 5 of March 2023, Household Affordability Index).

The cost of basic hygiene products is high. These products compete in the household purse with food. These products are essential for good health and hygiene.


[i] The Springbok basket has shown dramatic increases over the past two months: in February the basket increased by R278,48, and now in March the basket has increased by a further R374,42; a total increase of R652,90 in just two months. Foods spanning almost all food categories have increased – particularly maize meal and bread, but also meats, vegetables, dairy, and children’s sandwich foods. Rand-value comparison with other cities shows that many of the foods in the Springbok basket are significantly higher than those of other areas – specifically in the core staples, meats, and vegetables. The Springbok basket tends to increase or decrease by remarkably high Rand-values from one month to the next, this may be due to specific variables related to the limited number of supermarkets in the area, and their retail practices, and its geographic location, neither of which are typical to the rest of the areas included in the overall index. The Springbok basket is weighted at 7% in the overall basket.

[ii] STATSSA (2023). Consumer Price Index February 2023. Statistical release P0141. 22 March 2023. Statistics South Africa. Pretoria. P5, 8. See Link:

[iii] STATSSA (2023). Producer Price Index January 2023. Statistical release P0142.1. 23 February 2023. Statistics South Africa. Pretoria. P11. See Link:

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