Sunday, 29 March 2015

Shoplifting Formula

Some people will shoplift in order to eat.
People who shoplift to generate an income steal high ticket items which can be easily sold on. And this is probably why some foods in supermarkets carry security tags.

Since 2012 or so, I noted that infant formula has joined the ranks of food with security tags, joining champagne and other high value alcohol, razors, and expensive cuts of meat, for example.
My local police force posted this photo below on its Facebook page today. 

Courtesy: Durham Constabulary 
The price of formula averaged 52p/100g in 2005, 68p/100g in 2007 and 96p/100g in 2015. Roughly double its price 10 years ago.

For some babies infant formula is their only food for several months and they continue to need it for a year or more.  Babies have to eat and parents who don't breastfeed have to buy formula.  How a person budgets or on what they spend their income is not really relevant to the price of formula.  The main point is that the price of formula is exorbitant and it is basic food stuff such as bread.  Were it treated like bread it would not be in the photo above.  Parents don't want to steal their babies' food but many are forced to choose between stealing it or buying stolen formula, or feed their babies watered down formula or other inappropriate foods and drinks.

Some wit created the infographic below to help others understand how the price of formula is accounted for.  While it may not be to scale, it is roughly correct, according to Gabrielle Palmer, the author of the Politics of Breastfeeding: When Breasts are Bad for Business.

If formula was priced as other basic food items the price would be controlled.

In which world can we price baby milk like a luxury item such as champagne?

In this one, I guess.

Edited 14 May 2017:  In case we are lulled into complacency that diluting formula is only a developing world problem.  There is now solid evidence that it is occurring in the UK too. 

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