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Buyers from the mainland snap up baby milk powder

Updated: 2011-02-14 07:05

By Li Wenfang (China Daily)

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GUANGZHOU - Macao is following Hong Kong in reporting a shortage of, and price increases for, infant and baby milk powder, with visitors and smugglers from the mainland snapping up stocks during the Chinese new year holiday.

Some Macao parents say they are finding it hard to secure the supply of the brands they want for their infants and babies, and some are calling for the implementation of a milk powder tax on visitors to Macao, China News Service reported at the weekend.

Milk powder prices have risen about 10 percent across Macao, the report said.

The report cited one unnamed pharmacy at the border between Macao and Zhuhai, Guangdong province, as saying the new morning shipments are usually all sold out by the afternoon. One mainland visitor at the pharmacy wanted 20 tins of milk powder but had to make do with two.

Amid the milk powder scramble, travel agencies have adjusted their routes in order to guide visitors to the shops selling quality milk powder and are allowing more shopping time, according to the Association of Macao Tourist Agents.

One Macao parent posted a suggestion online proposing the introduction of a milk powder tax on visitors to Macao that has received numerous positive responses from netizens, according to the China News Service report.

Mainland parents, especially those from neighboring Guangdong province, have been buying Hong Kong and Macao milk powder since the contaminated baby formula scandal in 2008 on the Chinese mainland, when baby formula tainted with the industrial chemical melamine - which was added to watered-down raw milk to boost fake protein readings during quality tests - killed at least six babies and made 300,000 seriously ill.

Mainland parents are also attracted by the lower prices in Hong Kong and Macao, with the price gap further stretched by the appreciating Chinese yuan. A tin of milk powder is 10 to 20 percent cheaper in Macao than on the mainland.

A similar milk powder shopping spree and shortage happened in Hong Kong before the Chinese new year holidays, prompting parents to call for a milk powder tax on visitors to Hong Kong.

Despite the huge demand, the supply is largely set with the supplier determining the quota for regions every year.

China Daily

(China Daily 02/14/2011 page5)


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