Lockdown-related pressure on disposable income levels of South African consumers is currently reflected in the depreciating price of fresh produce, especially potatoes.
On December 18, the price of a 10-kilogram bag of potatoes was R42.18.
Last Friday that price, for the same bag, had dipped to R27.82.
In comparison, market volumes for the same dates – December 18 and January 22 – have gone up, from 1.24 million to 1.36 million 10kg bags.
And although a price decrease is usually the effect of oversupply, the 34% drop in the price of potatoes is indicative of the time we’re living in, market agent Julian van der Nat of Farmer’s Trust at the Tshwane fresh produce market has said.
He attributes volatility in volume and price fluctuation of potatoes to two things: post-Christmas economic pressures and the coronavirus pandemic.
Interestingly, good quality fresh produce is doing quite well, but it should be seen against the backdrop of poorer quality potatoes not selling at the moment.
The reason for this, Van der Nat explains, is that informal market movement of the staple has been hammered by consumers feeling the pinch.
The fact that quality potatoes are doing comparatively well, shows that people in a higher income bracket prefer to cook at home.
This is because of lockdown regulations curtailing the freedom of people while also impacting the middle-income earner’s ability to afford eating out.
And although fresh produce market volatility usually spikes after the festive season because of consumers recovering from December’s largesse, the 34% drop in the price of potatoes is a much bigger downward movement compared to previous years, Van der Nat says.