These are the most stolen foods from the Spanish supermarket

by Lorraine Williamson
stolen foods

If you go to the supermarket and find bottles of olive oil under lock and key, you probably come from Aragon, Andalucia, Castilla La Mancha, Catalonia, Valencia, Madrid, the Balearic Islands or Extremadura. In these 8 autonomous communities, this product is stolen the most. But, apart from olive oil, what are the most stolen foods in Spain?

The number of items that are protected against theft is increasing every day in Spanish supermarkets. It’s not just about the bottled drink anymore, but also about canned food. Or hygienic and cosmetic products such as creams or razor blades. You might think that only smaller products, which are easier to hide, are stolen, theft of larger products also occurs. Think, for example, of bottles, carafes of oil or even hams.

The most stolen food

In 2023, the most stolen products were oils, Iberian meats, shaving equipment, tuna and wines. Alcohol is still number one as the most stolen product from the Spanish supermarket this year. Unsurprisingly, olive oil has entered the top 5 as the second most stolen product in 2024. It is ranked number one in eight autonomous regions. It is the most stolen product in supermarkets in Andalucia, Aragon, Castile-La Mancha, Catalonia, Madrid, Valencia, Extremadura and the Balearic Islands.

Nationally, olive oil finishes in second place. In doing so, it displaces the Iberian cured meats, which now end up as number three. Oil from recognised brands is stolen just as much as oil from private labels,” says Salvador Cañones, managing partner of STC Nedap. The company, which makes packaging, has been investigating shoplifting.

The regions

Where inhabitants from the coastal regions are inclined to steal tuna, the Galicians, Cantabrians and Asturians in the north opt for octopus. While in Aragón the theft of local meats stands out, in Castilla y León and Andalucia, cheese is a clear target. In Catalonia, cockles and cow’s milk are stolen a lot. In the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands, D.O. cheeses and local liqueurs are among the most emblematic products stolen. Whereas, in Navarre, Ceuta and Melilla, smoked and pickled products are often the target of theft.

Cogesa Expats

Refined taste

“It is clear that we have a refined taste, with a clear preference for gourmet products. There are quite a few differences with the rest of the EU countries. Our main agreement is the attraction for spirits, but in no other country except Italy and Portugal would they consider protecting cheese, tuna or coffee,” says Cañones.

Who is stealing the food? One of the most revealing data in this report is that 90% of food thefts are committed by professional and organised gangs. In addition, also by repeat offenders. They use the products afterwards to resell. “There’s an underlying reason for shoplifting and that’s that someone wants something for free — the thief himself — or someone wants to buy it cheaper and induces the thief to steal,” Cañones says. According to the study, the age of the people who commit these thefts is between 20 and 60 years old.

Need to steal or not?

But does this theft of food really have to do with necessity? Several pieces of data suggest that this is not the case, at least not for the most part. On the one hand, most branded products are stolen instead of retail products, with the exception of oil. On the other hand, basic products such as bread, pasta, flour or rice are not stolen. And, last but not least, 96% of the supermarket chains surveyed collaborate with social organisations and food banks on a daily basis, offering free products to meet real needs.

Without security, 70 percent more thefts

For the study, data was collected from large chains with more than 10,000 supermarkets across Spain. In addition, a survey was conducted among security directors and store managers. The survey also gives clues as to what would happen if we did not protect our food with anti-theft measures: “100% of the chains consulted are convinced that if they removed anti-theft systems from their stores, theft would increase dramatically by 70% for the secured goods. And a little less for the remaining 30%,” STC said. “It is clear that there are only two ways to reduce the impact of theft: either take measures to prevent theft or increase prices to recover the value of the stolen goods,” as Cañones explains.

You may also like