The monthly increase in the consumer price index (CPI) was 0.2%, the lowest reading since January 2022, says Statistics South Africa (Stats SA).
The decrease was amid fuel prices decreasing by 3.8% between July and August, with petrol falling by 5.0% and diesel by 0.9%.
“This pushed the annual rate for fuel down to 43.2% from 56.2% in July. The welcome decrease in the cost of fuel had an impact on the overall transport index, which declined by 1.0% between July and August,” the agency said.
In contrast to fuel, food inflation continued upwards. The food and non-alcoholic beverages (NAB) index increased by 11.3% in the 12 months to August, higher than the reading of 9.7% in July.
Annual food and NAB inflation has climbed significantly from the recent low of 6.0% in April this year and has remained above 5.0% since October 2020. Nine of the 11 food and NAB categories recorded an annual inflation rate above 8.0% in August.
During this period, bread and cereals registered an increase of 3.1% between July and August, pushing the annual rate from 13.7% to 17.8%. Maize meal increased by 4.8% from July, taking the annual rate to 29.1%. Brown bread registered a monthly rise of 2.2% and cake flour 3.9%.
In a statement, Stats SA said annual meat inflation eased slightly from 9.4% in July to 9.2% in August, with a monthly increase of 0.7%. Annual meat inflation has remained above 8.0% since May 2021.
“Prices for milk, eggs and cheese increased by 2.1% between July and August. Products with higher than average monthly increases include cheddar cheese (3.1%), low fat milk (2.9%) and full cream milk (2.6%).
“Oils and fats hit another annual high – 37.6% in August, up from 36.2% in July. The monthly rate, however, has slowed from its peak of 10.1% in May this year to 1.1% in August.
“Hot beverage prices steamed to their highest annual rate in 64 months at 11.8% (compared with 12.1% in April 2017), stirred up by monthly increases in rooibos tea (7.6%) and instant coffee (3.9%).”
Household cleaning products recorded significant price increases.
“Washing powder is 26.2% more expensive than a year ago. Laundry soap will set you back an additional 33.9%, compared with August last year, and the price of dishwashing liquid has climbed by 13.6% over the same period. Overall, the price index for cleaning and maintenance products increased by 23.4% over the past 12 months,” Stats SA said.