The Competition Commission says it will be investigating the exorbitant prices of ginger and garlic in the food retail market.
The Commission is warning retailers to refrain from increasing these food items.
Over the past few weeks, prices of lemon, ginger and garlic have skyrocketed by more than 300%, this as they are said to help fight COVID-19 related illness.
The Commission says they have received complaints from consumers and will be investigating the complaints seriously.
Spokesperson for the Commission Siyabulela Makunga says they are calling on the public to make use of their SMS and WhatsApp hotline to report price gouging.
“We have noted with concern the public outcry on social media the prices of garlic and ginger. We also appreciate the changes in demand for garlic and ginger but it is our view the price of ginger and garlic have increased astronomically at retailers. We don’t think that the increased demand in ginger justified the price of up to R400 a kilogram. The Commission has been monitoring food prices since the beginning of the pandemic and we are following up on the complaints that we have received thus far and with sufficient evidence we are likely to investigate and prosecute cases,” says Makunga.
Increase in food prices during lockdown
Research conducted by various organisations showed a significant increase in food prices during South Africa’s COVID-19 lockdown last year.
Months into the lockdown, a study by Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice showed that basic food items cost 30% more than they did before.
While this was partly attributed to a disruption to international supply chains and the weak economy, retailers had also been deliberately hiking prices, as found by the Competition Commission.
The Commission says even though some prices have somewhat stabilised, consumers are still feeling the pinch.
Director of the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit at the School of Economics at the University of Cape Town, Prof Murray Leibbrandt on food prices:
– Additional reporting by SABC News