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South Africa: Competition Commission Releases Report on Food Price Monitoring

 |  July 15, 2020

Following the announcement of the National State of Disaster and widespread complaints of food price escalations, the Commission has today released a report on food price monitoring. The report culminates from the Commission’s concerted efforts on enforcement aimed at containing excessive pricing and price gouging on essential food items in addition to face masks and hand sanitisers.

Food constitutes 30% of low-income household expenditure and is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system, so containing price inflation is a priority during the crisis. Of the 1600 complaints received under the excessive pricing and consumer protection regulations by the end of June, 307 (or 19%) related to basic food products in retail stores.

The report highlights the Commission’s efforts in monitoring pricing food commodity and fresh produce markets upstream which were subject to some initial price increases too. The food price monitoring report identifies Rand depreciation and panic buying as partial drivers of price increases in food markets at the beginning of the crisis. However, these have been exacerbated in some cases by markets not functioning efficiently in addition to instances of price gouging by retailers…