Where’s The Beef?

Where’s The Beef? Stolen, According to CBS News

Asset Protection (AP) and Loss Prevention (LP) professionals in the grocery vertical would not be too surprised to learn that meat, beef in particular, is one of the most stolen items in supermarkets today. But AP and LP professionals in other retail segments are likely baffled at this statistic. After all, concealing large quantities of meat is not an easy feat when one considers how fragility of the packaging.

Meat in the World of ORC

It may also be shocking to some that meat has been a favored target of professional boosters. Unlike the black market paths that ORC products typically follow (booster to fence, fence to repack operation), meat takes its own journey down the seemingly endless thievery trails. With meat theft, the meat is stolen in large quantities and immediately sold to independently owned markets, bars and restaurants. To add color to this, consider the recently reported theft case in Memphis, TN. In that case, Mekoe Suggs was charged with allegedly stealing between $60,000 and $250,000 worth of meat from his employer. The investigation was initiated after $90,000 of meat was discovered missing after an inventory cycle.* Although no information was provided that explained exactly what Suggs allegedly did with all of that stolen product, it is highly unlikely for it not to have been illegally distributed to area businesses for resale.

With beef prices climbing more than 26% just in the last 5 years with no end in sight, buying stolen meat has become the only saving grace for some small, neighborhood grills. In addition to large scale professional thefts, it has been reported that even amateur theft is on the rise. Amateur theft, by definition, is the theft of merchandise for personal consumption. With the high costs of beef, some have turned to theft to help feed their respective families.

Armed with this knowledge, the best and the brightest are looking for solutions to stop the bleeding, and with the food industry’s well known razor-thin margins, preventing meat theft has never been a more urgent task.

EAS Protection

Continuing down the line of surprising information, some may be interested to learn that Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) technology has made its way to meat theft protection. This may be difficult to imagine since the first image that comes to an AP or LP professional’s mind during an EAS discussion is a standard hard tag with a pin backing. But when dealing with solutions providers who are truly engrained within the AP and LP industry, technological solutions are timely.

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The Nedap Advantage

Nedap Retail is one of those solutions providers deeply engrained in both the art and science of protecting assets. And with their superior technological background, meat theft prevention has been one of their most successful accomplishments.

Chilled and frozen products such as meat, fish and cheese are bestsellers in food retail, but as discussed, they are also extremely popular with shoplifters. Therefore, Nedap offers special labelling solutions to help food retailers protect these targeted products from being stolen.

When securing chilled and frozen products, it is essential to choose an EAS label that is fit for the environmental influences. To ensure the best performance, it is not only relevant to consider the actual product and the packaging, but also where the label is applied and under which conditions. Key factors to determine which EAS label to use on chilled or frozen products are:

  • Product
  • Packaging
  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Label application (In-store vs. At-source)
  • Shelf life / expiration date

Depending on these factors, Nedap offers different types of adhesive and different top layers to make sure that the EAS label performs at its best. The labels are designed to withstand cold and moist conditions over longer periods of time and can be applied close to the actual product without the risk of detuning or detaching, which is a main concern with Nedap Retail’s competitors’ products. Options include:

  • Labels for deep frozen products
  • Waterproof labels for chilled products
  • Paper labels for chilled products
  • Auto-apply labels

The auto-apply label is applied at source during the packaging phase. These are especially designed for automatic application and can be “sandwiched” between the brand/product label and the packaging.

Label Deactivation & Detection

Key factors to consider when determining label quality are how well they can be deactivated and how well they can be detected by the EAS antennas. In fact, the effectiveness of each EAS solution is determined by the quality of the three key elements:

  • The label on the product
  • The deactivator at the POS
  • The EAS antenna at the checkout or the store exit

If any of these elements are not performing well, the effectiveness of the EAS system is significantly lowered, as there is a high risk that there may be no alarms or false alarms.

For more information about Nedap Retail’s meat protection solutions, click here. To discuss how you can give your products the best protection or take a look at Nedap’s complete label and tag portfolio and other loss prevention solutions, click here.

About Nedap Retail

Nedap’s retail loss prevention products include electronic article surveillance, RF EAS systems, RFID EAS systems, Customer-Counting, and Retail Store Access Control systems.  Nedap’s retail solutions are based on intelligent identification and registration of people, animals and objects, or on innovative, ‘green’ electronic controls and power supplies. Innovation is driven by clients’ operations: systems are developed and adapted to optimize clients’ production and information processes.

Nedap brings 40 years of global experience, market expertise and close cooperation with leading retailers. Everything Nedap Retail does is driven by their mission to make it simple for retailers to always have the right products available. To achieve this, Nedap Retail offers industry-leading solutions for their customers’ diverse needs in loss prevention and stock management. For more information, visit Nedap Retail’s website: http://www.nedapretail-americas.com/.


– http://www.nedap-retail.com/solutions/source_tagging/tags_en_labels/labels/meat_fish_and_cheese.aspx

– http://www.wmcactionnews5.com/story/33660083/man-charged-in-elaborate-meat-theft-ring

– http://time.com/money/4099524/meat-beef-prices-stealing-theft/

Meatlifting: Why Americans Steal Meat From Grocery Stores

When asked about your most bizarre experience as a loss prevention manager, you will probably have enough stories to fill a book – especially in supermarkets and grocery stores where ladies are stuffing honey-baked hams into their handbags or guys packing as many Purloined Sirloins down their pants as can fit.

And while some stories are funny to recount later, stealing meat is a serious issue: Every year millions of pounds of beef, pork and veal disappears from the shelves.

Meat Most Attractive For Shoplifters

Meat, next to alcohol, is one of the higher-priced items in any grocery store — Purloined Sirloin being the hottest item.

According to Heather Garlich of the Food Marketing Institute, it is not surprising that “we’ve been witnessing a steady increase in theft of meat at retail for the last several years. [We know] from anecdotal discussions with our food retail and wholesale members, meat and health and beauty aids, are indeed the highest ranked products for ‘shrink.’”

Desperation Or Need Are Not The Primary Drivers

Whenever the issue of theft of food items is discussed, the general assumption is the culprit acted out of desperation or need to feed themselves. You feel yourself emphatizing with the shoplifter — even trying to somehow justify their crime.

However, most of the meat that is stolen are expensive cuts such as lamb chops, filet mignon or Angus beef. The meat-lifting is done by people who can afford to buy groceries but want to occasionally reward themselves (“I worked so hard, I deserve a good steak!”) or out of a false sense of entitlement.

According to a study conducted by the University of Florida, most meat is nipped by women between 35 and 40 years old — men prefer to steal batteries or other higher-priced items they could potentially resell to support a gaming or drinking addiction.

How Can You Protect Your Merchandise?

While retailers and drugstores have been locking up hot items — such as cough medicines containing pseudoephedrine, perfumes, and cigarettes — into secure display cases or behind safe counters, this is not entirely possible for meat.

Locking Away Is Not An Option

Most shoppers want to get their grocery shopping over and done with as soon as possible and prefer to help themselves at self-help cooler-cases. If grocery stores would force customers to grab a number and organize their shopping around the butcher line, shoppers would change their primary grocery store faster than you can say “Hi, what can I do for you today?”

Food-Safe Tagging Inside The Packaging

A more effective option is tagging your products for electronic article surveillance. The package must include a food-safe security tag that holds up to refrigeration and freezing, is microwave-safe and conforms with health- and sanitation standards.

Prosecution & Other Consequences

The most effective deterrent for theft is being prosecuted. However, most police departments are rather short-staffed and will not have the manpower to come and arrest every single person stealing $20 worth of steak. In Dallas, Texas stealing under $50 will not be pursued at all.

So, what is a store to do? Other than posting codes of conducts and barring past offenders from reentering their stores – there is not much retailers can do other than using loss prevention technology as a long-term deterrent to keep them from coming back.

Want To Learn More?

Download our white paper about how to secure chillend and frozen meat products.