The price of food can be affected by a variety of factors, from the weather to political instability. In England, increasing food prices are leading to a meteoric increase in meat thefts.
Increasing food costs
For consumers in the United States and United Kingdom, the price of food has been increasing by huge amounts, compared to most other consumer items. In the UK, meat showed an annual inflation rate of 6.1 percent just in the month of March. These prices are going up at the same time incomes have been going down. This means food is getting more expensive. This increasing cost puts the squeeze on budgets, because cutting grocery costs is often very difficult, especially for families.
Meat thefts in the UK
A combination of high prices for meat and more consumers seeking food at a lower cost is creating a market for stolen or otherwise illegitimately procured meat. The number of meat thefts in the UK has reportedly gone up by 20 percent or more in the last few months, just from grocery stores. These thefts range from single individuals sneaking off with a single package of meat to full-fledged crime rings stealing hundreds of pounds of meat from trucks before they make it to stores. Some stores have started outfitting packages of meat with inventory control tags that are usually reserved for very high-dollar items.
Rustling meat from the source
Though meat from supermarkets and meat from suppliers are two of the targets of organized theft rings, farmers are reporting an increase in very old-school crime: rustling. Farmers report that their livestock, both sheep and cows, are disappearing from their herds at the hands of rustlers. These rustlers are taking livestock from fields, then taking them to unauthorized butchering operations, which then sell the meat into the food system.
Making sure your meat is legit
For most consumers, ensuring that the meat you purchase is entirely legitimate starts with a good relationship. Buying your meat directly from the butcher or farmer is the first step. Barring that, purchasing meat from a grocery store with a good reputation is a good idea. You can also help cut down food costs and stay away from stolen meat by simply cutting down or cutting out meat in your diet. There are plenty of vegetable sources of protein, most of which are very inexpensive, especially when compared to animal proteins.