Baby formula under lock and key as thefts rise, say Winnipeg retailers
Food Fare store owner Munther Zeid says only a couple of his stores carry baby formula after so much of the expensive product was disappearing.
“I would say more than half was being stolen,” he said.
“It’s almost at the point where you have to put all those hot commodities under lock and key.”
In one of the Food Fare locations on Portage Avenue, there’s only a few cans of the product out, the rest is behind the cash register.
“Theft in general has been up dramatically in the last year, year and a bit — cheese, meats, milk, tide pods, things that are hot commodities, and easy sales. It’s ridiculous.”
His store isn’t alone in dealing with baby formula thefts.
Some Safeway and Superstore locations don’t even have the product available on the shelf, people have to go to customer service to find it.
While at some Walmart locations, there’s extra security cameras monitoring the formula aisle.
Zeid suspects people are not taking the cans of formula because they are in need, but rather to resell.
“People that are stealing it are stealing it because they need it for their addiction or for whatever reason they need money for but it’s not being stolen because of need.”
While the bigger cans of the product cost somewhere between $30 and $50 per can and last about a week, sites like Kijiji and Facebook Marketplace have dozens of cans sold at half price.
At Winnipeg Harvest, baby formula is a very in-demand item and used to feed 1,200 babies each month in the city.
“It’s a really costly item, and something necessary for helping babies grow. So I think under certain pressures, people need to use us for assistance and we’re able to provide that item if we can,” said Meaghan Erbus, Community Engagement Manager.
Erbus added Harvest is having a formula drive at the next home Winnipeg Jets game on January 31.
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