Cigarettes, lighters, razor blades… baby formula?
One of these things is not like the others. But canisters of baby formula are now being locked behind the services desk in supermarkets across Australia. And greedy shoppers cashing in on demand from China are to blame.
Baby formula is a hot ticket item. Especially Australian made products like Bellamy’s Organic, A2 and Karicare, which are sold at a marked up price to Chinese parents. The problem is that often there’s no formula left on the shelves for Australian babies and toddlers.
The practice has led to what is being dubbed as ‘formula frenzies‘. This is where shoppers swarm supermarkets and chemists to grab as many canisters of baby formula as possible. Retailers like Chemist Warehouse and Woolworths have already slapped a ‘two cans per person’ limit on formula sales. But this get-tough tactic hasn’t stopped the baby formula shortage for local mums.
A drastic solution
Now, certain supermarkets, starting in New South Wales and Victoria, have this week taken the dramatic step of ‘locking up’ their supplies of formula so Aussie mums have a better chance of finding formula for their babies . A Reddit user posted up a sign spotted at their local Coles which explained that popular products are now only available from the service counter.
Other eagle-eyed shoppers around the country have also spotted cans of baby formula stacked securely on top of cigarette lockers to keep them out of the hands of greedy shoppers trying to cash in on the lucrative Chinese market.
“Coles is committed to ensuring that our customers with a genuine need for infant formula have access to this product,”a Coles spokesman told The Daily Telegraph.
“To make sure we have formula available for customers, in some stores we are keeping infant formula behind the service desk or using specially designed electronic article surveillance lids that can only be removed at the register.”
And a Woolworths spokesman said the supermarket giant was keeping its own eye on the formula buying fiasco to try and address the baby formula shortage.
“We understand the frustration our customers can feel when they can’t get the products they need,” the spokesman said.
Hot ticket item
Aussie baby formula can fetch big bucks on the Chinese market. Brands like A2 Platinum sell for up to four times the retail price on sites like eBay. On-selling formula can be a highly lucrative business for ‘daigou’, or personal shoppers. The lifting of trade restrictions means certain formulas are now sold direct to the Chinese market. But it’s still cheaper for Chinese parents to pay someone here in Australia to send them formula.
Have you noticed your local supermarket locking up formula tins? Or do you have any problems finding your child’s formula in your area because of the baby formula shortage? Let us know. And make sure to follow Mum Central on Facebook for more news parents can use.