The functions of the Food Pricing Monitoring Committee – established by the Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs in consultation with the Cabinet in 2003 – were assumed by the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) after the committee completed its work in August 2004. Prof. Johann Kirsten, the former chairperson of the Committee, continues in his capacity as council member to oversee the food price monitoring activities of the NAMC. The NAMC issues 4 media releases every year and since 2005 also publishes an Annual Food Cost Review, which documents the margins between farm prices and retail prices of the major food products - the 2006 Food Cost review is due in June 2007.
Basic food prices are once again increasing, generating concerns within government (note the Cabinet statement of 3 May 2007) and among consumers. These concerns are largely originating from our earlier press release (March 2007) and the most recent CPI figures released by STATSSA showing food price inflation at 7.7% for the year March 2006 to March 2007 – down from the 8.6% reported for January 2007. Many are in the process of trying to understand and/or identify the main factor(s) underlying increasing food prices. This media release (the 2nd statement on food price trends issued by the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) during 2007) attempts to do the same by providing further detail and analysis of the price levels and price trends for individual food items.
Given the large concerns about food prices it is critical that we present a brief overview of the agricultural and food industry to put food price trends in better perspective. For this reason we depart from our usual format by providing some additional information in the introductory sections below.