Co-op customers have taken to Twitter as food price inflation sees instant coffee priced over £10 and the products replaced with dummy jars to deter shoplifting.
An image shared on Twitter shows a shelf displaying a small and large-sized jar of Kenco instant coffee priced at £5.50 and £10.50 respectively, and one large jar of Nescafe instant coffee priced at £9.35.
The three jars are also completely empty with no other products lined behind them. Instead, just a sticker placed on the front of each that reads: “This product is a dummy. Not for sale. Please ask a member of staff for help.”
@laura_estah tweeted the image with an accompanying message: “Cost of living reaching new heights, my local co-op is now a grocery showroom. also ft periodic tannoy announcements from mitie security that their cameras are watching you. bleak af.”(sic)
@laura_estah followed up with: “Lots of ppl obsessing over these prices… I’d never pay a tenner for this either, but surely what’s more alarming is the sudden need for this insane securitisation, a function of rising poverty.”(sic)
The original tweet, which has so far received over 1,200 retweets and over 7,000 ‘likes’, also received hundreds of comments from other customers voicing their shock, as well as some sharing additional images of typically “inexpensive” food products that are now priced higher with security tags.
@DanielHugill tweeted: “In Brockley, SE London the instant coffee is in plastic security boxes. And we have the security announcements too.”
@Clockwisesss tweeted: “I’m just thinking if food shopping will become a 90s argos style pick from a catalogue and they send it up a conveyor belt to be collected type of thing.”
Meanwhile, @DoRayMeFarTed tweeted an image of a “specialty” Aldi cheese with a caption: “My local Aldi has been putting security stickers on their not expensive cheeses.”
@MonsNoobis tweeted a picture of meat encased in plastic packaging with the caption: “They’re packaging steaks like they’re gold bars at the one on my street.”
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A Co-op spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “Protecting the safety of our colleagues is a priority and we know shoplifting can be a flashpoint for violence against shopworkers so whilst this is not a nationwide policy, a decision to implement product security measures at a local level can be made if a store is experiencing a particular issue.”
Despite the fall in inflation reflected in April’s Consumer Price Index report, grocery prices have remained close to the highest rate in 45 years.
A new report from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and NielsenIQ reveals that, while the food inflation rate has dropped from 15.7 percent to 15.4 percent in May, the rate of grocery inflation has reached a new high of nine percent.
Myron Jobson, senior personal finance analyst at interactive investor, commented: “While headline food inflation is thankfully on the wane, we are still paying higher prices than ever before at the shops.
“Shoppers are increasingly taking a stand against what they deem as unfair prices amid fears that food retailers and producers are profiteering from rising prices. We’ve already seen a large number of shoppers jumping ship to German discount retailers to lower the cost of their grocery shop.”
The UK Government is reportedly drawing up plans to cap prices on basic food items, however, this has come with its own criticisms.
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The BRC suggested that, rather than resorting to a “1970s-style” price control, the Government should focus on cutting red tape so resources can be directed to keeping prices as low as possible.
The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA)’s Julian Jessop said: “Caps on food prices are at best a pointless gimmick and, at worst, harmful to the very people they are supposed to help.
“Despite the hype about ‘greedflation’ driving up food costs, UK supermarkets work on tiny profit margins. While they might be willing to regard some basic foods as ‘loss leaders’ for positive publicity, they may also compensate for price controls by reducing quantity or quality, and by raising prices for ‘uncapped’ goods.”
Mr Jessop continued: “It is not even certain that the prices of capped goods would end up lower than if there were no cap. Supermarkets may simply price to the cap, and not cut prices further even if falling costs allowed it. Strong competition should prevent this, but it would incentivise supermarkets to cut their prices anyway, making price controls pointless.
“The Government will hope that this is enough to show that it is ‘doing something’ about food inflation. But it could just encourage calls for more intervention, including making the caps legally mandated as with the energy price cap, and extending to other sectors like housing in the form of rent controls.”
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