Horror inflation among the British: supermarkets provide butter and cheese with theft protection

Because thieves are increasingly stealing staple foods, British retailers are resorting to unusual means.

Horror inflation among the British: supermarkets provide butter and cheese with theft protection

Because thieves are increasingly stealing staple foods, British retailers are resorting to unusual means. Butter and cheese are given anti-theft stickers that consumers have only seen on higher-priced goods.

The increased prices for raw materials such as gas or oil are apparently not the only thing that is increasingly causing consumers to despair. Increasingly expensive staple foods are also causing problems because they tear big holes in private household budgets. Apparently, the burden is now so great that it is also noticeable in the shoplifting balance sheet. Major chains in the UK are already taking action against the raids on their supermarkets.

In many UK shops, due to increasing shrinkage, butter, cheese and baby milk have recently been equipped with security tags and small electronic plastic safes that sound an alarm at the exit if the goods have not been paid for. So far, consumers have only known such precautions for higher-priced items such as alcohol, perfume or electronic items.

Social media posts feature photos of cheddar cheese on Aldi shelves or cans of baby milk at Tesco and Sainsbury's secured against theft. The anti-theft protection that Sainsbury gave to a lightly salted butter called Lurpak, which is served in millions of UK homes, is attracting particular attention. According to the "Daily Mail", the price per kilo is now almost 10 pounds - the equivalent of almost 12 euros. Data from comparison site trolley.co.uk shows that the price of a standard 500g pack of Lurpak has risen by around £2.25 to £5 over the past year.

Particularly alarming is an anti-theft device from British retailer Morrisons, which, according to The Independent, electronically secures £8.50 children's multivitamins from thieves. Apparently, there has recently been a noticeable amount of shrinkage on the shelves. The background could be parents' fears that the high prices are jeopardizing the quality of British school meals. Only recently, caterers warned of poorer quality. The BBC quoted the industry association Laca as saying that dozens of companies would have to cope with price increases of 20 to 30 percent for many products. The costs made it impossible to continue as usual.

In England, all children are entitled to free lunch up to the end of the second year, and only children from very low-income families from the third year on. In total, about 1.9 million students are currently receiving free school meals, up 160,000 from January 2021.

Britain is facing its worst inflation in 40 years. In May, inflation was 9.1 percent above the previous year's value. In February 1982, inflation was 10.2 percent. Food alone rose in price by 11 percent. The island has the highest inflation rate among the major industrial nations. For comparison: 7.9 percent on an annual basis was reported for Germany in May. With the cost of living exploding, researchers estimate millions of UK households could slide into poverty and debt.

Sainsbury boss Simon Roberts is also pessimistic about developments over the course of the year. The pressure on household budgets will "only increase" in view of inflation. "We really understand how difficult it is for millions of households at the moment, so we're investing £500m and doing everything we can to keep our prices low, particularly on the products customers buy most often."

The British chain Co-op recently reported on a customer who, among other things, stole meat, coffee and ice cream worth more than £400 from three shops. The man was banned from the house. The police expect the crime rate to rise further. Officers should have discretion to decide whether to prosecute people who steal to eat, appealed Britain's new chief inspector Andie Cooke.

The "Independent" quotes consumer advocate Marc Gander from the Consumer Action Group as saying that buyers are right to be concerned. At the same time, however, he also warns that they should "better stop being shocked". There are "many alternatives, including private labels, which are much cheaper". "It's a mystery why Lurpak has to cost almost £10 when private labels often cost around half that amount."