Gammon, Parmesan and fresh coffee were among the most frequently stolen items last year according to the 2012-13 Global Retail Theft Barometer.
Shoplifting, employee and supplier fraud, organised retail crime and administrative errors cost the UK high street £3.4bn last year, with the effects of the economic downturn blamed for the increased theft of food.
Shoplifting is the biggest problem facing UK retailers, accounting for 36% of total losses, or £1.22bn. Theft by employees was also a major area for concern, accounting for 33% of total losses.
Russell Holland, UK general manager of Checkpoint Systems, the company that financed the research said: “Over the last year, retailers have certainly been making great strides in the fight against retail crime. However, times are still tough for many families across the country, hence the increase in theft of high value foodstuff such as fresh meat and cheese.
The British Retail Consortium said that the high incidences of theft ultimately pushed prices up for consumers.
BRC crime policy advisor Laura Davies said: “Our most recent retail crime survey found that customer thefts account for 83% of all incidents, but significant under-reporting means that the full picture isn’t being presented.
“During the recession, there was an increase in shoplifting for personal use, but regardless of the motive retail crime shouldn’t be seen as a petty or victimless offence. It affects shops and staff, pushes up retailers’ costs and can impact directly on communities.”