Inflation eases to 11-month low

Annual consumer inflation slowed to 6,8% in April from 7,1% in March. This is the lowest reading since May 2022, when the rate was 6,5%.

The monthly change in the consumer price index (CPI) was 0,4% in April 2023.

Food and non-alcoholic beverages

Annual inflation for food and non-alcoholic beverages eased to 13,9% in April from 14,0% in March. The bread & cereals price index increased by 20,8% in the 12 months to April, slightly higher than March’s reading of 20,3%, but lower than the recent peak of 21,8% recorded in January.

The milk, eggs & cheese product group recorded an annual price increase of 14,5% – the largest rise in 14 years (since January 2009). The average price of a 2-litre carton of fresh full-cream milk increased from R30,14 to R35,88 in the 12 months to April. Over the same period, the average price of a kilogram of cheddar cheese climbed from R118,24 to R135,11 and a tray of six eggs from R20,38 to R21,59.

On average, vegetables were 23,1% more expensive in April 2023 compared with April 2022. This is the highest annual rate since November 2007 – more than 15 years ago! Products pushing up the rate include onions (up 52,8%), carrots (up 29,8%), peppers (up 25,0%) and potatoes (up 24,4%).

Coffee lovers are feeling the pinch too. Annual inflation for non-alcoholic beverages was 10,4% in April, the highest rate since January 2010. Products that registered higher than average price changes were ground coffee or beans (up 17,8%), instant coffee (up 14,8%), dairy blends (up 19,2%) and fruit juices (up 16,5%).

Meat and oils & fats are bucking the trend. Those who enjoy their steak will be glad to know that meat inflation slowed for a second consecutive month, cooling to 9,5% from 10,6% in March. Inflation for oils & fats slowed for an eighth consecutive month, tumbling from 16,0% in March to 9,9% in April. The last time this rate was in single-digit territory was November 2020.

Other notable price shifts in April

Transport recorded its ninth successive month of disinflation in April, softening to 7,6%. This was mainly due to the annual rate for fuel easing to 5,0% – the lowest reading since March 2021 (2,4%).

The purchase of vehicles category carries a weight of 5,9% in the CPI basket. The annual rate for this category increased to 7,2% in April from 7,0% in March. Breaking this down further, used vehicles are 12,9% more expensive than a year ago. New vehicles witnessed slower inflation, with prices increasing by 6,7% over this period.

Sharp monthly price hikes were recorded for traditional reading material, such as newspapers (up 7,5%) and magazines (up 5,6%). This took the annual rate for the books, newspapers & stationery category from 10,2% in March to 11,5% in April.

The miscellaneous goods & services price index jumped by 1,3% between March 2023 and April 2023. This category was the biggest factor behind the 0,4% monthly rise in the headline CPI, contributing 0,2 of a percentage point. Personal care prices climbed by 1,2% from March 2023. Some health insurance companies increased prices in April, lifting the health insurance index by a monthly 2,4%.

The graph below shows the price indices that recorded notable increases in April:

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