Is food really that expensive in South Africa?

Consumer compares cost of living between South Africa, Spain and the UKWell just how pricey is our food?  From this account, written by a fellow journalist who prefers to remain anonymous, (let’s call him M), we’re not badly off here when it comes to shopping at our supermarkets. 

This is what he said in an email to friends and colleagues upon his return to South Africa.

Janice

Having just spent a month living in Madrid followed by a couple of weeks in Glasgow before returning to South Africa at the beginning of this month, I thought it would be interesting to do a consumer cost of living comparison between the three, using items that I could match up directly. I have calculated it all in rand, using ruling exchange rates but should point out that the UK costs were calculated at R20 to the pound so would be a few percent lower now.

Overall conclusion? It’s a lot cheaper living in Spain than the UK and even a bit cheaper living in South Africa compared with Spain. If you are a meat eater and a beer-drinker you need to emigrate from the UK immediately!! Alcohol costs double in the UK what it costs in Spain and that’s buying it from a bottle store.

Buy a beer in a pub in the UK and you get hit with prices for a pint that range from three to five times what we pay in a pub in SA. Spanish pubs ONLY charge around double what it costs in SA. Viva Espana!!

The prices charged by cafes and restaurants in the UK are also extortionate compared to what you pay for far better quality food in Spain. I will never again eat a “ham toastie” like the one I got in a café in Mallaig, Scotland. That cost 4.65 pound for two pieces of toasted plain white bread inside which was one transparent slice of ham and two wafer thin (I am talking microns) slices of tomato.

In Madrid you can get  a “boccadillo”  –  a large roll stuffed full of smoked ham and tomato slices –  for between two and three euros.

Please note that the general population in the UK and Spain are not that well paid compared to South Africa.  It’s only the bankers, traders, consultants, stockbrokers, accountants, head hunters etc who pull down big bucks there. The rest appear to be on wages that are the same or slightly higher than what we get here when you do the currency conversions.  Bottom line is they are not being paid enough to compensate for the higher prices they are being charged.

I freely admit this is a subjective assessment I have reached through conversations with people that I know in the UK and that I met in Madrid.

Now throw in the other major issues like the weather, the cost of housing and the UK’s present infrastructure compared to Spain.  I must point out that Spain’s rail system is streets ahead of the UK. It has a network of high speed trains that operate efficiently and at between 30% and 40% of the cost of a comparable train journey in the UK. You have to ask why anyone in their right mind continues to live in the UK.

I freely admit this is the opinion of someone who has lived in Africa most of his life and has gotten used to being able to rely on the sun shining for at least 90% of the year which, of course, is why I don’t live in Cape Town.

PRICES, JUNE 2016 Pounds and euros converted to rands at ruling exchange rates

ProductCarrefour MadridTesco Port Glasgow

Checkers/Liquor City Jhb

Grilled chickenR 97.58R 121.74R 70.00
Carrots 1kgR 8.00R 9.13R 11.90
Onions 1kgR 16.40R 13.20R 13.99
Potatoes 1kgR 19.68R 20.29R 12.99
Tomatoes 1kgR 24.40R 28.00R 13.99
1L fresh milkR 18.86R 19.27R 15.00
1L UHT milkR 9.84R 18.26R 12.00
6 eggs largeR 15.58R 20.29R 12.99
Fresh chicken/kgR 35.26R 46.26R 37.99
Colgate toothpasteR 32.80R 30.43R 12.00
Shampoo 360mlR 65.60R 101.45R 84.99
Floro marge 600g tubR 42.64R 30.43R 21.99
Six pack cans beerR 59.04R 101.45R 59.00
Bottle Mateus roseR 54.00R 101.45R 89.00
Tin of mushroomsR 15.90R 19.00R 17.99
500m Coca ColaR 13.00R 25.36R 9.49
Ariel detergent 3LR 178.00R 264.00R 110.00
Fillet steak/kgR 279.00R 608.00R 209.00
Lamb chops/kgR 261.00R 160.70R 119.00


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