Did you know that within food and grocery categories, coffee ranked fifth for most stolen items in North America, according to the 2014-2015 Global Retail Theft Barometer Report? I admit I was somewhat surprised by this.  I expected meat and wine to be on the list, but coffee would not have been on my radar. When I saw this statistic I began to question what would be driving this category to be such a hot commodity (yes, pun is intended).  Coffee prices swing up and down based on crop production and this is influenced greatly by rainfall or drought in coffee producing regions. Yet, it seems that regardless of the price of coffee it is always in demand and consumers are willing to pay for the bean or the beverage. Consider that just a couple of years ago coffee prices went up significantly due to drought in coffee growing countries like Brazil but the popularity of coffee houses continued to rise despite price increases. While there are those who are willing to pay more, there are also those who still want their beverage but aren’t willing to pay for it. The use of EAS labels is one way to stop shoplifting of specialty bags of coffee.


EAS labels (electronic article surveillance) are small adhesive tags that can be applied to products you want to prevent from being stolen. The labels have a circuit built into them and when brought into the detection field of an EAS antenna, activate the antenna’s alarm and lights. This alarm serves to alert store personnel to respond to and address the cause of the alarm. There is also the potential that the alarm may startle a shoplifter enough to cause them to drop the merchandise they were carrying and run from the store. The tag adhesive is strong enough that trying to remove it usually results in the paper being torn off, but the circuit remains attached.


With the increased popularity of coffee shops such as Starbuck’s and house coffee’s offered by restaurants like Dunkin Donuts, specialty coffee has found a niche in grocery stores. Customers can purchase favorite brands and blends of coffee bagged and ready to go directly off the shelf. A 12 ounce bag of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee at one big box retailer can be purchased for about $7.00 a bag and a 12 ounce bag of Starbucks coffee at the same place is roughly a dollar more. Another Grocery store chain sells Caribou Coffees at $8.99 for a 12 ounce bag. Add to this the rise in popularity of K cup coffee that can be up to $14 a box and the shortage ranking of coffee makes more sense.Thieves will steal because they want something and can’t afford it or it is stolen by organized theft rings and resold in “mom and pop shops” or alternatives such as online sites. It is also stolen because it is easy to steal. This is simply a category of product that is often overlooked in merchandise protection strategies. Applying EAS labels to your bags and boxes of coffee can significantly reduce the theft in your store.


Having worked in retail loss prevention I have seen the effectiveness of EAS labels to stop shoplifting. They are economical, coming in rolls of 2000 tags and they are easy to apply to merchandise by simply peeling them from the roll and sticking them to the merchandise. Dishonest customers generally shy away from merchandise that has anti-theft protection on it.  I have made numerous recoveries of merchandise dropped at the doors when an alarm sounds during an attempted theft. I also learned how to give people an excuse for “forgetting” they had unpaid merchandise when an antenna sounded and frequently made recoveries that way.   


 If your bean counters (another intended pun) notice that coffee shortage is a problem for your store, take action to stop shoplifting. Use EAS labels to make shoplifters wake up and take their activity elsewhere.


Get more information on EAS labels, contact us or call 1.770.426.0547 today.