October 18/London/Sky News -- Cheese has been labeled a "high-risk food" because it is the most stolen food item across the globe, according to a report.

Shoplifting and organized retail crime cost the UK high street an estimated £4.9 million during the past 12 months, according to the Centre for Retail Research. Theft is a growing concern for shop owners, and the amount of stolen retail goods increased by 6.2% in the year to July.

Food products are amongst the most targeted products, with cheese topping the list.

The dairy item's loss percentage (3.9%) is more than three times the global average (1.29%).

Supermarkets have had a tough few months, being victims of theft and looting

Neil Matthews, vice-president of Checkpoint Systems, a retail security firm, said, "Compared to the 2010 figures, loss among the high-risk food lines has shot up by more than the global average, evidence that they are increasingly being targeted by shoplifters."

Thieves tended to opt for branded products - shoplifters stole an average of £79 worth of goods each time, according to the Global Retail Theft Barometer 2011.

Most stolen items at supermarkets:
* Razorblades
* Alcohol
* Cheese
* Coffee
* CDs and DVDs
Source: Centre for Retail Research

Emmanuel Hembert, retail analyst at AT Kearney, said, "Retail casualties have been extremely high over the summer, and some of the most exposed retailers have already disappeared from the high street.

"For the past six months, they have been affected by bad news -- economic slowdown, government cuts and now an increase in shoplifting.

"With the bad news piling up, bigger names on the high street may not be able to resist the tide."

It also seemed retailers need to keep an eye on their own staff. The report showed theft by U.K. employees represents 36.1% of the total loss.

 From the October 18, 2011, Prepared Foods' Daily News.