Remember when a bucket of chicken was R3? — nostalgia grips Mzansi as food prices continue to soar

07 June 2022 - 10:23
By Kyle Zeeman
South Africans recalled the prices of food and other items back in the day. File photo.
Image: 123RF/stokkete South Africans recalled the prices of food and other items back in the day. File photo.

Remember when you could buy a pair of smart leather shoes for R13, a KFC Snack Box for 70c and a taxi for R6,000?

South Africans were reminiscing about the “good old days” this week, as petrol and food prices wreak havoc with household budgets.

It started when a social media user shared adverts for alcohol, fast food, shoes and cars from yesteryear.

“What happened to our country?” he wrote.

Many were shocked and daydreamed of such prices in 2022. Others noted high levels of inflation over the past few decades.

A few brought their own slips to the conversation.


According to a cost of living aggregator, SA’s inflation rate has increased between 2% and 15% every year since 1990, with the exception of 2004, which saw a decrease of -0.69%.

The early 1990s saw the highest inflation numbers, with double-digit increases from 1990 to 1992. It dropped below 5% growth in 2004, when it was lower than the global average.

It remained below the world average until 2007 and has not beaten it since.

The global financial crisis from 2007 to 2009 shook world markets, and SA was not exempt. According to the aggregator’s data, in 2008 SA registered double digit inflation for the first time since the early 1990s, at 10.7%, before dropping to 7.22% the next year.


Inflation jumped to the highest level in almost five years in December last year, to 5.9%, amid economic fallout from, among other factors, the Covid-19 pandemic 

According to Stats SA, in January the rate was at 4.5%, nudging up to 4.6% in February. It increased in March, as the world felt the aftershock of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, to 5.9%. It remained unchanged in April.

Figures for May are expected later this month.


High fuel prices and an increase in vehicle running costs have been highlighted. A slight softening in annual food and nonalcoholic beverages inflation was reported, but concern was raised about oils and fats, hot beverages and meat.

The average price of sunflower oil (750ml) increased from R31.24 in March to R34.89 in April.

Coffee also became more expensive. Significant monthly increases were recorded for ground coffee (up 2.4%) and instant coffee (up 2.1%) in April, with the price of cappuccino sachets rising by 1%. Black tea prices increased on average by 0.6%, but Rooibos declined by 0.2%.

In terms of meat and poultry, there were notable increases for stewing beef (up 2.8%), mince (up 2.2%) and individually quick frozen chicken portions (up 1.4%).

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