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What Food Do People Most Often Steal from Grocery Stores?

If one were to try to guess the most shoplifted food item, cheese would probably not top the list. However, according to a 2011 British Centre for Retail Research report, cheese is the most shoplifted food item in the world. About 4% of the world's cheese is stolen, according to the report's findings. Perhaps retail stores should be spending more time and energy in guarding their cheese products.

Experts use the acronym "CRAVED" to describe items that are most likely to be targets for shoplifters. The acronym stands for "Concealable, Removable, Available, Valuable, Enjoyable and Disposable." As cheese fits the criteria quite well, it may not be such a surprise that shoplifters prefer this food item over others. In order to avoid this issue in their own shops, some store owners are taking precautions by placing cheese products in a well-lit central area of the store that is also watched by a video camera. It is believed that much of the stolen cheese is resold to other markets or restaurants. Fresh meat, candy, and infant formula are some of the other most-shoplifted food items.

Globally, retail shrinkage is believed to be on the rise. Shrinkage is a reduction in the profits of a business. Theft, either by employees or shoplifters, causes shrinkage, as do issues with suppliers and vendors and internal errors.

More about retail shrinkage and retail theft:

  • In 2011, the cost of retail shrinkage was $119 billion USD.
  • While cheese was the most shoplifted food item globally in 2011, fresh meat, candy, and chocolate were the most shoplifted items in North America. In the Asia-Pacific region, the most shoplifted foods were high-quality seafood and fish.
  • Shoplifters were responsible for 43.2% of retail shrinkage in 2011 and employee theft was responsible for 35%.
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