The manager of a drugstore in Etten-Leur, Noord-Brabant was caught selling a pallet of baby formula out the back of the shop before the product hit the shelves. However, this apparently happens often around the country, as managers receive their bonuses based on their turnover rather than their margins. If they are always able to sell their pallets of formula in one go, it’s no surprise some of them will move product this way. Almost everyone in the Netherlands has noticed that baby formula can only be bought one or two tins at a time due to a constant shortage.
The media tends to blame the Chinese who buy up baby formula, but that’s only half the picture. The shortage is not caused by individual Chinese buying up units or even a pallet out the back, but mainly by Dutch producers of formula who can sell it at three times the Dutch price on Chinese websites where only a select handful of foreign companies are allowed to do business. According to the Telegraaf in 2013, Chinese resellers can make millions selling Dutch baby formula to the Chinese whether it comes directly from Dutch companies or Chinese selling it themselves. I’ve read that ambitious traders who buy pallets get the product into China through Hong Kong, even a few tins at a time if need be.
Sure, the Chinese can buy domestic formula, but since the scandals of 2008, expecting parents would rather buy quality foreign products, and big European companies know this all too well.
(Link: nieuws.nl, Photo of a poster protesting Nutricia by Martijn van Exel, some rights reserved)
Tags: baby formula, Chinese, milk powder, Noord-Brabant
Chinese expatriates have been buying up large amounts of Dutch baby formula and shipping it to their families in China for the past few years.
After the melamine scares of 2008 and later, it appears that Chinese parents no longer trust the formula from their own brands, even if it is made by Dutch manufacturers. Apparently there is a scarcity of baby formula in the Randstad region. Not just the Netherlands but also Germany, the UK, Australia and New Zealand suffer from Chinese bulk purchases, Gelderlander wrote last week.
Manufacturers and supermarkets have asked Minister Sharon Dijksma of Economic Affairs to interfere, NRC says. Dijksma has asked the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority to study the grey market. Producers of formula have promised to increase production in the meantime.
According to retail expert Paul Moers the shortage of formula in Dutch supermarkets is not because of Chinese parents buying all the product. Moers says according to Gelderlander that Nestlé, Nutricia and Unilever can simply make more money by selling to Asian countries:
“Multinationals are focussed too much on profit. How can it be that the Netherlands, where the product is made, has a shortage of baby formula? Doing business should also be based on morality and ethics.” Moers used be a manager for Unilever in Asia.
See also: Chinese buying up Dutch baby milk powder (RNW, 2010)
(Photo of a poster protesting Nutricia by Martijn van Exel, some rights reserved)
Tags: baby formula, China, infant formula, Nestlé, Nutricia, parenting, Paul Moers, Unilever