Baby formula black market
Demand for uncontaminated formula in China creates black market.
British milk formula retailers have been forced to introduce extreme measures in order to restrict buyers form making bulk purchases of the commodity- to sell on to distributors in China for a large profit. The demand for ‘clean’ product comes after contaminated formula was found to be responsible for the deaths of 6 babies- over 300 000 babies fell ill- in China five years ago, and parents are not willing to believe that safety measures have improved in the manufacturing process.

Stringent controls implemented

According to the Washington Post, restrictions at British retailers include:
  • No more than 2 tins of formula per customer, per day.
  • Increased security measures to ensure customers don’t return to the store later for repeat purchases.
The report continues to claim that Chinese authorities insist that the melamine-laced formula incident will never be repeated, and that they have arrested individuals attempting to unofficially import large quantities of the product into mainland China. Penalties in Hong Kong for attempted smuggling include up to $US 64 000 or 2 years imprisonment.

The LST has said that the main culprits are relatives living in Europe who are buying formula from supermarkets and posting it, as there is no official distribution network. In addition, some entrepreneurs have established websites which allow the product to be ordered online. Chinese buyers are allegedly willing to pay 4 times the price for illegal imports vs. domestic product.

The demand for imported product has left retailers concerned when confronted with shoppers standing shelves which have been emptied by the trend. Some stores have employed additional security guards to prevent bulk purchases.

A further concern for mothers is that babies become used to the taste of a specific brand, so, if this is not available, the child may refuse to drink another brand.

Have you noticed any shortages of formula  in your local stores?

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