The First WorldWide Shrinkage Survey is not about taking a scientific approach to a Seinfeld plot line. Instead, it measures shoplifting around the globe. "Shrinkage," in retail parlance, is when people take things from stores without paying for them. And according to their study, the most shoplifted item in the world in 2011 was cheese.
Close behind that came fresh meat and candy. Infant formula also made the list.
Are the cheese purloiners just big lacto-philes? Nope.
"It's not just grannies saying, 'I need some cheese I'll just go and steal it'," Dr. Joshua Bamfield, director of the Centre for Retail Research. "A lot of the theft is for resale and a lot of this cheese will be resold into other markets or to restaurants."
Cheese carries a lot of value in a compact package. It's small, easy to slip into a pocket, and it's not traceable. Just peel off the cheesemonger's sticker and you're in business.
That's why Munir Ahadi, of Fresh Express Fine Foods, does what he does. He told that he keeps his cheese in the middle of the store, where they are watched by a video camera and are lit by strategically placed bright lights to dissuade shoplifters.