Fruit & Vegetable Basket

The subject of rising food prices has been a popular topic of conversation over the last year. Trundler recently put together a food price index, which reveals how food prices in South Africa have changed since March 2020.

The food price index encompasses a huge range of products. It’s unlikely that anyone would buy the entire basket of products represented by the index on a regular basis, which means that the index is not necessarily comparable to a weekly grocery bill. The food price index also measures the price of a food basket relative to a particular point in time, which makes it difficult to get a sense of how the actual price changed over time.

So, in an attempt to measure food price changes in a more accessible way, we prepared a smaller basket of food products, and tracked the actual price of that basket over time. We focused on fruit and vegetables for this analysis, but future analyses will include other food categories.

Methodology

First we made contact with several people who have interacted with Trundler in the past, and asked them to send us a list of the fruit and vegetable products that they typically buy in their weekly trip to the grocery store. Then we selected the eleven most popular items (by vote) in the food basket (the process certainly could be more scientific, but this is good enough for a blog!).

Here is the basket:

  1. Brown Onions (1kg bag)
  2. Bananas (750g bag)
  3. Golden Delicious Apples (1kg bag)
  4. Carrots (1kg bag)
  5. Tomatoes (1kg bag)
  6. English Cucumber (single)
  7. Sweet Potato (1kg bag)
  8. Tri-colour Peppers (3 pack)
  9. Broccoli (400-500g head)
  10. Garlic (2 pack) and
  11. Potatoes (2kg bag).

We compared the price of this basket at two different retailers: Woolworths and Pick ’n Pay. To make the comparison fair, we were careful to select the same type and quantity of each product at each retailer. Unfortunately, this meant that we had to exclude butternut from the basket (which was one of the more popular vegetables in our survey), because we could not find two directly comparable products.

Fruit & Veg Basket

Here’s a look at how the price of our food basket changed over the last year. Woolworths tends to target consumers in middle to high income brackets, while Pick ’n Pay advertises itself as a cost conscious option. There’s a clear difference in the price of our food basket at these two retailers.

It turns out that the difference in price between the two baskets can mostly be explained by the presence of just one product: the 750g bag of bananas.

What happens if we remove the bananas from the basket?

Now the difference in basket price between Woolworths and Pick ’n Pay is rather small. In fact, sometimes, it’s cheaper to buy vegetables at Woolworths! So, the takeaway: if your fruit and veg basket looks like ours, and you don’t like bananas, it doesn’t matter which retailer you choose.

But, there’s a good chance that your weekly fruit and vegetable shop doesn’t look very much like ours. So, send us your list! We can put together a custom comparison for you.

In future posts, we’ll be taking a look at food baskets that incorporate foods from other categories. Get in touch with us if there are particular food categories that you’re interested in!

Related

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