May 15, 2014 11:20 pm

High meat prices affecting local businesses

Saskatchewan government ministers are extremely disappointed that the United States has not fixed Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) in its farm bill.

AP Photo

For southern Alberta grocers higher meat prices are translating into more thefts.   Earlier this week Taber police stopped two men for speeding and later discovered $800 dollars worth of stolen meat in their vehicle. It’s a problem that doesn’t appear to be going away and if anyone knows the affect high meat prices has had on grocery stores, it’s Irene Caldwell. Caldwell has managed the deli department at the Coaldale Food Market for over 20 years. “(Meat) Prices have gone up between 20 and 25 percent, it does affect sales and it does affect theft as well,” explained Caldwell. In fact since meat prices have risen the local grocery store has seen a 10-15 per cent increase in thefts in their deli department, including a single theft of nearly $400 dollars. It’s become so significant the store now keeps certain high price cuts behind the counter. After years of experience Caldwell says she can tell who is shoplifting. “They’ll be shopping with a cart and they’ll just have the backpack in the cart and then when you’re not watching they’ll go down an aisle, they’ll kind of like go behind something and just kind of throw it in there and out they go,” she said. Increased thefts, means increased security. The Coaldale Food Market has added several cameras around the location to insure fewer products walk off the shelves. “If people know that there’s surveillance in the store it really helps a lot,” Caldwell added. “We’ve installed  a lot of security, we had a fair bit before, but now it’s in random places and it’s being watched all the time right, you have to.” It’s a problem that likely won’t go away until cattle inventory increases. Since 2005 inventory in Canada has decreased by 25 per cent while in the United States it’s down 11 per cent. Brena Grant of Canfacts Research Services can see the market shifting, “we have tight supplies not just in North America, but also globally that are really pushing prices up and this is going to have long term effects for beef prices globally.”

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