What Is The Most Stolen Food In The World?


Hey! Who cut (off with) the cheese?

That’s what food retailers all across the world have been asking, according to a new report by the Centre for Retail Research (CRR), which finds that cheese is the most stolen food internationally. The report studies the problem of “shrinkage,” quite possibly the best euphemism ever. Shrinkage refers to the phenomenon whereby inventories shrink for unknown reasons — almost always shoplifting and employee theft or occasionally having to do with stocking errors. In other words, CRR is looking at which foods are the most stolen in the world.

As I said earlier, cheese is by far the most stolen food, with 3.09% of all cheese stocks ending up shrunken. Trailing behind that are fresh and cooked premium meats, candy and alcohol. This makes a lot of sense: most of these items are in relatively small packages, or very valuable by weight. One odd item that seems incongruous within the data is that infant formula shows high rates of shoplifting in North America (3% of the inventory shrinks), despite heavy subsidies in the US to provide free formula to mothers. Either there is still strong demand among American middle class mothers for formula, or Mexico and Canada have exceedingly high rates of shoplifted formula.

One of the most important notes in the report, though, documents the rise in shoplifting and food theft over the course of the past year, leading to a 6.6% rise in shrinkage. This should come as no surprise. With the collapsing global economy, many families have had to turn to shoplifting to get enough food for the family. That could help explain why cheese of all things is the most often stolen food. Indeed, cheese is rich in protein and calcium, which suggests that shoplifting is done not just by teenagers looking for a sugar high, but by health conscious people looking for nutritious food to supplement into their diets.


Related Stories:

Some Salmonella With That Lettuce And Eggs?

Liberated Battery Hens Find a New Home in Prison

New Recipients for Subsidized Vegetables: College Graduates

Photo credit: Simon Shek's Flickr stream.


Jim Ven
Jim Ven5 days ago

thanks for sharing.

Elena T.
Elena Poensgen4 years ago

Thank you :)

Sheri P.
Sheri P.5 years ago

Wow...I never would've guessed.

Holly Lawrence
Holly Lawrence5 years ago

A, very surprised about the cheese but not the alcohol!

Lika S.
Lika S.5 years ago

Hmm, so the stereotype is wrong. It's always the dad (or mom) writing a bad check to buy bread for the kids... assuming that it's pb&j... Just to find out, it's the cheese, to have all nice and gooey as a grilled sandwich, with a crisp outside and a nice melty goop on the inside...

Anyone got tomato soup (made with milk)? Or 7-Up? We could go in on this together...

Jane R.
Jane R.5 years ago

Cheese? I really don't see how anyone can take any unpaid item out of a store. I would have thought the most stolen item was from the delli. I see people eating out of a bag of chicken nuggets while shopping then the bag is left on a shelf. Other things are candy bars, the mother lets the kid eat it while shopping then disposes of the wrapper in a trash bin. I find this discusting. They are teaching their children that it's okay to steal. Yes some people have it hard, but so did my family as I was growing up, yet we NEVER stole anything.

Rosanna Klaver
Rosanna Klaver5 years ago

yes cheese is easy to take and i dont blame poor people stealing it,i understand they are hungry and when you have no money,what would you do?

Jillian B.
Jillian B.5 years ago

I understand the cheese, it's like a luxury item that everyone wants but you don't absolutely need it. And is probably very easy to take. I remember times when I had no money we'd buy a box of hamburger helper, and the meat that was going bad and had to be sold immediately, sometimes we'd just have the hamburger helper with no meat. But quite honestly it was our own fault and luckily we didn't have kids. We spent money on partying too much and then would realize we had no money left for a few more days until we got paid again. I know most people don't make bad choices like we did, I'm just saying some of this have been really irresponsible at times and then cried in our cheap beer because we didn't have a decent meal until payday.

janet T.
janet t.5 years ago

Even food banks have a hard time getting enough food. And even food banks are being stolen from. Our local food bank has been broken into a few times and had equipment stolen. I always say donate to a food bank because I can't stand the idea of kids going hungry. It is no surprise cheese is a stolen item, it is the first thing I would go after if my kids were hungry. Stores should be ashamed of themselves, corporations should be ashamed of themselves.

Douglas S.
Douglas S.5 years ago