hile many Australian supermarkets have placed a limit of two tins of baby formula per shopper, Chinese re-sellers have found an easy way around this restriction.
In video from a Woolworths in suburban Sydney, a group of shoppers are seen anxiously awaiting the arrival of a new stock of baby formula. Once this precious cargo arrives, they pick up two tins, head to the cash register, pay, and then drop off the tins inside one of a number of trolleys waiting at the store’s entrance before going back to repeat the process.
“Once the shelves were empty, it was like a mass exodus. They all raced off with their trolleys,” described the Australian shopper who shot the footage and forwarded it along to local news outlets.
Ever since six babies died and hundreds of thousands fell ill in China in 2008 after drinking a Chinese infant formula brand that was found to be contaminated with melamine, middle-class Chinese parents have looked abroad for safer options for their children, paying two to three times the price of local brands for imported products.
This has created an enormous business opportunity for anyone with connections in Australia. Back in 2015, it was estimated that half of the baby formula sold in Australian supermarkets ended up in China. Store shelves are particularly wiped out ahead of China’s annual Singles Day shopping extravaganza.
Half-hearted crackdowns have done little to stem the flow of formula, which has become valuable enough to be the basis of criminal enterprises. Earlier this month, police in Sydney busted a gang that had stolen more than 4,000 tins of baby formula with plans to send them on to China.
[Images via 9News]