Chinese Demand for Infant Formula Leads to Australian Shortages

13 Nov 2015 --- Australia is experiencing a shortage of infant formula, said to be as a result of Chinese buyers bulk-buying and sending it back to China where demand is so high it can’t be met. Problems were exacerbated this week as China’s Singles Day, the world’s largest online shopping event, encouraged more consumers to buy large amounts of baby formula.

Now, some Australian supermarkets have run out of infant formula, leaving Australian parents worried about how to feed their babies. Those supermarkets that do still have some formula are limiting sales to just a few units per purchase, with one supermarket chain, Coles, limiting shoppers to two units.

Premium brands such as Aptamil and A2 are the worst affected as bulk purchasers have taken to Ebay and other auction sites selling individual units at up to €78.

Many formula producers have been increasing production in order to try to keep up with demand, however in recent months they have not been able to cope. A few of the producers, including A2 and Bellamy’s Organic, are relatively new on the market and are struggling to produce enough formula fast enough, but they also encourage Chinese consumers to trust their brands on Chinese markets. The over-riding reason for China’s interest in foreign formula is that its own formula market was rocked in 2008 when traces of melamine were found in local formula, leading to serious illness and death among Chinese babies. Since then there has been an inherent mistrust of baby formula made or sold in China.

Most formula makers have stressed that production is running at full pace and that most brands are available to buy online. They think that supermarket shelves will be well-stocked by the end of November.

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