Australian supermarkets have been coming under fire locally for turning a blind eye as their stock of infant formula is exported to China, with sellers and traders cashing in on the rising demand from Chinese consumers for this most precious foreign product.
The Age reports that half of the product sold in Australian supermarkets is really being shipped to China, amounting to upwards of $200 million of sales over the last several years. Australian chains like Coles and Woolworth have received backlash from outraged parents, who have been laboring under a 2-4 tin buying quota all this time.
Ever since a Chinese baby formula brand was found to be contaminated with melamine in 2008, middle-class Chinese parents have started to frantically search abroad for safer options, with consumers paying two to three times the price of local brands for imported products.
A senior Woolworths executive revealed to Fairfax Media that the company merely pays “lip service” to the buying limit, because, “sales are worth way too much for us.”
Indeed, confidential industry data reveals that sales of Australian baby formula have nearly doubled from $226 million in 2012, to $430 million this year — and the number is expected to reach $500 million by the coming March.
That has led to chief executive of popular Australian brand a2 Platinum, Peter Nathan, even celebrating the baby formula black market: “Chinese consumers are driven by fear of their own domestic produce, especially for infant formula,” Nathan observed, “And the one-child policy has gone. Demand for Australian formula is only going to increase.”
By Pinky Latt