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Stores report rising baby food thefts as price rises drive parents to desperation

Companies report 30-45% jump in stolen goods, leading to stores securing products behind counters, as parents struggle to afford up to NIS 150 per week for formula

Similac on sale at the Rami Levy supermarket in Jerusalem, on February 3, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Similac on sale at the Rami Levy supermarket in Jerusalem, on February 3, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Pharmacies and grocery stores have reported increasing theft of baby food in recent months, as high prices force struggling parents to steal in order to feed their children, Hebrew media reported on Thursday.

The phenomenon has led many stores to remove baby products from their shelves and lock them up behind the counters.

Ohad Sandler, CEO and owner of the Good Pharm chain told Channel 12 that at his stores, there was a “35-40 percent rise in the amount of stealing.”

“Mostly you encounter situations that are really unpleasant. A mother, a father, trying to steal in order to provide a basic need to their children,” Sandler said.

One mother complained to Channel 12 that she has to spend “NIS 150 ($45) to buy Similac [baby formula] and diapers” each week for her one-year-old daughter.

“I really don’t know who it’s possible to turn to in order to receive help,” she added.

A shopping cart at the Rami Levy supermarket in Modiin on July 21, 2022. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

The rising costs are not restricted to baby products. Israelis have struggled to cope with soaring prices across the board in recent months.

As of Monday, while the price of gasoline dropped, electricity soared a whopping 8.6%, while state-subsidized dairy items including milk and yellow cheese rose 4.9%.

At least one company, the importing giant Diplomat vowed to freeze its scheduled price hikes until after the Jewish holidays in October.

The Welfare and Social Services Ministry responded to the Channel 12 report, stating that next week eligible families will receive vouchers to retroactively cover the cost of baby food in July, and also to pay for the products through August.

“With the card, they can receive the food by home delivery within three days,” the ministry said.

Compared to other OECD countries, baby formula costs up to 80% more in Israel than in other member states, according to data tabled at the Knesset Labor and Welfare Committee in December.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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