Supermarkets have been spotted adding security tags to basic food items like cheese, as the cost of living crisis sees pricing spiralling.
Britons took to social media to share pictures of tags more commonly used on bottles of alcohol attached to £3.99 blocks of Aldi cheddar.
Security warnings were also seen on £8 lamb chops in a Co-op store in Wolverhampton amid the cost of living crisis, and supermarkets have also been putting tags on baby milk cartons.
It comes as Britain’s largest dairy producer has warned grocery prices will continue to rise after customers saw Lurpak butter selling for more than £9 a pack.
One social media user posted a photograph of a 1kg tub selling for £9.35 and Ocado is selling it in this size online for £9, while Sainsbury’s online and in store list a 750g tub for £7.25.
The country faces the worst inflation in 40 years, climbing 9.1 per cent in the 12 months to May, the highest since at least February 1982 when it reached 10.2 per cent.
To counter the growing threat of shoplifting, Tesco has also fitted security tags to tubs of baby milk while Sainsbury’s recently tagged tubs of Aptamil baby, toddler and follow-on milks. Some supermarkets carry notices in the baby food aisle alerting shoppers that surveillance is being targeted to that area to tackle shoplifting.
Similarly in a London Morrisons, security tags were placed on £8.50 children’s multi-vitamins, again prompting surprise from shoppers.
Andy Cooke, the new chief inspector of constabulary said the cost of living crisis will trigger an increase in crime and officers should use their “discretion” when deciding whether to prosecute people who steal in order to eat.
However, Kit Malthouse dismissed the suggestion.
He said: “I’m afraid I find it a bit old-fashioned thinking. We first of all believe the law should be blind and police officers should operate without fear or favour in prosecution of the law.”
Simon Roberts, Sainsbury’s chief executive, has warned that pressure on household budgets “will only intensify over the remainder of the year” as he pledged to invest more money into improving value for shoppers.
“We really understand how hard it is for millions of households right now and that’s why we are investing £500 million and doing everything we can to keep our prices low, especially on the products customers buy most often,” he said.
Marc Gander, spokesperson for The Consumer Action Group, said that while shoppers are right to be alarmed, “they had better stop being shocked because that’s the way it’s going”.
“But there are lots of other alternatives around including own brands which are very much cheaper,” he added. “It’s a mystery why lurpak has to be nearly £10 a kilo when own brands are often about half of that amount.”
Justifying putting tags on more foods, a Co-op spokesman said: “Co-op has been involved in a small scale trial of new packaging for higher value products for well over a year, with the additional security providing a further deterrent if a store locally experiences shoplifting issues”.
A Sainsbury's spokesperson said: “This is just one of a range of security measures we have in place. And the decisions to tag some items will vary from store to store.”
The Independent approached Aldi for comment.