Where is the beef?

Securing frozen and chilled food

Where's the beef? Stolen, according to CBS News

By Corey Daff

June 29 2020

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 in the United States 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 fragile the packing is.

Meat in the world of ORC 

It may also be shocking to some that meat has been a favoured 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. 

Consider the reported theft case in Memphis, TN where the defendant 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. 

Professional and amateur meat theft

Meat prices have been rising as major processing facilities shut down or slowed operations because workers have been getting sick with Covid-19. At the same time, the demand for meat in grocery stores has spiked as consumers eat at home more. With beef prices climbing more than 11% compared with the same period last year, buying stolen meat has become the only saving grace for some small, neighbourhood 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. 

Securing frozen and chilled food

While it may come as a surprise to some, Food Retailers may be interested to learn that Electronic Article Surveillance technology has entered the realm of frozen/chilled meat theft protection. While the challenges of securing meat are quite obvious, solution providers who truly understand the needs and challenges of LP/AP professionals in Food Retail have innovated in a proper manner to solve the issue of meat theft. 

 When securing chilled and frozen products, it is essential to choose an anti-theft label that is fit for 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 anti-theft label to use on chilled or frozen products are: 

Depending on these factors, Nedap offers different types of adhesive and different top layers to make sure that the anti-theft 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 the main concern with Nedap Retail’s competitors’ products. Options include: 

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


How to secure chilled and frozen meat

In food retail, stealing meat is a serious issue. Every year millions of pounds disappear from the shelves leading to significant losses.

This whitepaper explains the options of (source) tagging chilled and frozen meat products with dedicated electronic article surveillance (EAS) labels. What are the most important factors that influence label detection and deactivation? What influence does the shelf life have on the performance of the label and which options are there in terms of label design?

3 Key-elements for successful loss prevention in food retail

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

  1. The label on the product 
  2. The deactivation at the point of sale 
  3. The detection of still active labels by antennas and how store staff responds to triggered alarms  

If any of these elements are not performing well, the effectiveness of an alarm system is significantly lowered, as there is a high risk that there may be no alarms or false alarms. The Checkout Antenna offers food retailers a customer-friendly way to significantly reduce theft by smart antenna positioning right at the point of sale.


How loss prevention can improve employee happiness and customer experience in food retail

Food retail is adapting rapidly to the changing demands of customers. For example, a customer can now find in all stores product ranges which even five years ago were less common. Think of biological food, gluten free, lactose free, vegan – the list grows.

The role of convenience and customer experience is getting more important as well. However, stores still need to be equipped with article surveillance systems. These systems usually do not contribute to making grocery shopping more pleasant.

This white paper explains how food retailers can improve alarm response in order to optimize sales while improving customer experience and employee satisfaction.

Corey Daff - Account Executive - US Sales
Account Executive - US Sales
Corey Daff