This Kitchen Staple Is Now The Most Shoplifted Item In The UK

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I don’t know about you but living in Britain in recent years has felt like a fever dream over the past few years and it’s only gotten worse since the cost of living crisis really accelerated this year.

Our energy bills are astronomically high, Ann Widdecombe is telling people to not eat cheese sandwiches, and now, due to a huge surge in grocery prices, people have resorted to shoplifting to get their essentials.

This makes sense considering that recent data from the Office for National Statistics highlights that the prices of foods and non alcoholic drinks rose at the second highest rate in 45 years in the year to April 2023.

According to the Britain Retail Consortium, the total cost of retail crime stood at £1.76 billion in 2021/22. £953 million was lost to customer theft, with eight million incidents of theft over the year. They added that retailers also spent £715 million on crime prevention in 2021/22.

The Most Commonly Shoplifted Grocery Items

Baby Formula

Heartbreakingly, baby formula is one of the most commonly stolen items with several shops now keeping it locked in cases until it’s purchased. Some people think this is due not only to desperate parents needing to feed their babies but also to scammers trying to sell on this high-value item. In fact, this is such an issue that Facebook has now banned the selling of baby formula on their marketplace.

The UK Government does have something to tackle food poverty in young families; Healthy Start, a scheme for families with children under the age of 4 to get financial help towards buying essential healthy groceries. However, the scheme is limited to those with who are on specific benefit support.


On average, Brits drink around two cups of coffee a day but with Nescafé Gold Blend costing £9.35 for 200g in Co-Op at the time of writing this, it’s not a sustainable habit and for some, shoplifting coffee is the only answer.

According to the Centre for Retail Research, “coffee is an expensive item in regular demand and may be stolen for personal use or resale. Ordinary packet tea in the UK is now so cheap that there is usually no real gain from stealing it.”


Another indicator of how hard the cost of living crisis is hitting young families: in Tower Hamlets, a London borough where an estimated 44% of households are living in poverty, the most stolen item is Calpol – a medicine used to treat babies and young children’s ailments. Lufur Rahman, the mayor of Tower Hamlets said, “It shows how much the cost-of-living crisis is hurting our residents when they cannot afford basic medicines for their children.”

Support Available For People At Risk Of Food Poverty

There are charities in the UK dedicated to eliminating food poverty including food banks like The Trussell Trust and Food Cycle which provide support to impoverished households and communities.

Also, Rishi Sunak announced last week that he will be asking shops to put a price cap on essential food items so maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel for these desperate households.