In such demand that Chinese are purchasing retail in Australia

You might well recall the scandal where baby formula in China was doped with melamine. Something which went on to poison a large number – all numbers are large in China – of infants. Even if you don’t recall it Chinese do which is what matters – and Australians are being forcibly reminded of it often enough. For what’s happening is that no one does trust brands in China at present. It’s simply too easy for them to be counterfeit – let alone the quality problems with no name brands. So, formula is being bought in Australia to ship it into China:

NEW footage has emerged showing how a gang of shoppers is getting around restrictions on the purchase of baby formula.

Women can be seen buying two tins of the baby formula at Hurstville Woolworths, placing them in trolleys outside the shop before returning to buy more, the footage provided to 9News by 2GB’s Ben Fordham shows.

Imagine, this is a big enough problem that a country is reduced to being allowed to buy only two tins at a time.

Coles and Woolworths recently limited purchases of baby formula to two tins, to try and stop it from being bought in bulk and sold overseas at inflated prices. Some sellers can make more than $100,000 a year.

That’s how bad the trust issue is in China.

This was something that the UK faced back when. Food adulteration was a significant problem in 1830 – 1840. The newly urbanised population didn’t have access to those traditional and rural food supplies. They depended upon middlemen to a greater extent than perhaps any previous population. Those middlemen then took full advantage. Alum in bread, water in milk, who knows what in everything else including arsenic in sweeties. What then happened was the growth of brands. People began to trust certain firms and their supplies. Not poisoning the consumer was thus a valuable attribute, one that spread. Quite the opposite of money, good food drives out bad.

Do note that the first realistic laws about food adulteration weren’t until the 1870s, by which time the brands which arose around 1850 had already largely solved the problem. The market did solve this problem but it relied upon one crucial ingredient. That the brands themselves not be pirated. This isn’t a condition that holds in China today and thus that market solution isn’t really working. Thus the gangs stripping shelves in Australia.

It’s odd but true that better Chinese law on copyright and trademarks would solve the baby formula problem – as the same did for our own food adulteration problems.

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This is not just about the complete failure of trust in China under one of the last remaining dictatorships. It is also about the extreme ineqality of wealth and income under the Chinese Communist party. The rich are/were sending servants to another continent to buy baby formula milk power a few tins at a time. I don’t know the airfare from Shanghai or Beijing to Sydney or Melbourne, and I don’t want to (too much) but after the rich had done so, spivvy entrepreneurs have spotted an opportunity for profit and emptied the Oz supermarkets of formula milk. Some mothers… Read more »


Why don’t they just use Amazon? I have a friend on contract in Ajuba. If he spies anything he’d like on the net he orders it through Amazon and two days later it’s there.

Quentin Vole
Quentin Vole

Yes adulteration used to be a big problem:
“Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk. ‘ (Henry David Thoreau)