The Australian government stepped in Thursday amid furore over Chinese shoppers buying up the country’s baby and infant formula.
Parents have publicly complained that they have trouble finding any in shops as shoppers from China, where foreign formula can be resold for a profit, have been seen buying up tins in bulk.
The government said it was in initial talks with retailers to address the problem.
Photographs on social media of apparently foreign shoppers with trolleys full of formula have sparked outrage from some mothers who say they now have to travel far and wide to find needed formula.
Sydney mother Katie Camarena spent six weeks struggling to find the required formula for her 10-month-old son.
“I have no problems with people buying formula and sending it overseas, but not at the expense of local families,” she told ABC TV.
Baby formula seen as safe and healthy – particularly specialist brands from Australia – is in big demand in China after a scandal involving contaminated Chinese formula where several babies died.
Only a quarter of Chinese babies are breast-fed, according to ABC.
Chinese buyers are reported to be buying formula in Australia for 25 dollars and selling it in China for up to 190 dollars. Demand spiked ahead of China’s online sales bonanza for Singles Day on Wednesday, news.com.au reported.
Assistant Trade Minister Richard Colbeck told ABC Radio on Thursday morning he was looking for a solution that could involve rationing formula sales to two or three tins per customer.
“Booming international demand for our high-quality dairy products is great news for our local dairy industry, but we must also ensure supply is available locally,” Colbeck said.
“I have been talking with supermarkets and pharmacy representatives today about ways we can ensure local parents have access to reliable supplies of infant formula.”