Meat targeted for theft as food prices soar across Canada

As food prices balloon across Canada, grocers say they are coping with a reported increase in meat product thefts.

According to figures released by Statistics Canada in November, numerous types and cuts of meat have seen significant cost increases since 2014.

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The cost of beef is also predicted to rise another four per cent this year.

Consumers have seen the biggest jumps at cash registers for products such as sirloin steak (15.8 per cent), stewing beef (14.3 per cent), prime-rib roast (8.4 per cent), blade roast (8.2 per cent), round steak (7.8 per cent), ground beef (7.3 per cent) and chicken (6.4 per cent).

According to industry experts, the pricey cuts have caught the eye of thieves, including those involved in organized crime.

"They sell the pieces of meat on the black market, and that is a big problem for us now," said Florent Gravel, president of Food Retailers Association of Quebec.

Many of the thieves hit up a string of grocery stores, and sell the loot in bulk to restaurants and bars.

Grocers say high-end and aged-meat products, in particular, have been targeted.

In order to cope with the increase in thefts, many store owners are turning to measures that are commonplace in other retail industries, such as security tags that trigger an alarm at the exit.

"There is one (tag) in the package under the sticker," said Bruno Menard, vice-president of grocery store chain IGA Louise Menard.

"(And) when there are boxes, we try to hide them in boxes."

But it is a costly solution: Installing each tag costs approximately one dollar.

But it is a price many grocers say they are willing to pay to cut down on the thefts.

With a report from CTV News' Genevieve Beauchemin



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