Chinese make baby formula scarce in Europe
BERLIN — Yong-Hee Kim still can't believe that in a prosperous country like Germany, powdered baby formula would ever be rationed and that she would have to scour shops in the German capital to find the right brand for her 13-month-old son.
But that's what has happened since major retailers in Germany this year began limiting sales of leading brands of baby formula. Parents in Britain, the Netherlands and Hong Kong have faced similar restrictions.
The reason for the sudden shortage is a quirk of globalization — one that illustrates the complexities of supply and demand in a wired world.
Parents thousands of miles away in China have been using the Internet or tapping friends and relatives in Europe to buy up stocks of high quality European-produced formula — often paying much higher prices than they would here.
Chinese demand for foreign brands soared after drought in Australia and New Zealand cut supplies from China's major sources of imported baby formula. Chinese parents who have enough money have largely shunned local brands since a contaminated milk scandal in 2008 left six babies dead and another 300,000 sick.
With Chinese consumers turning to sources abroad, major retail outlets in Germany, Britain, the Netherlands and Hong Kong have limited sales of several leading brands of baby formula. In Europe, parents have been stockpiling the milk powder at home, further intensifying the shortage.
“They don't sell more than three boxes of formula per store anymore. So my husband and I are checking out all those stores, running from A to B, to make sure we can get the right baby milk powder for our son,” Kim said as she watched her son at a playground in Berlin's leafy Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood.
“We even end up paying two, three or four euros more for a box,” she sighed. “It's really annoying.”
In Germany, the run on powdered milk started in February.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Colombia drug lord’s most loyal assassin courts Hollywood upon early release from prison
- Right-wingers say Israel failed ‘so long as Hamas exists’
- Russian help implicit in new separatist push into Ukraine
- ‘Holocaust T-shirt’ for kids discontinued in Spain
- IMF chief investigated for negligence in 2008 case in France
- Kenyan rangers killing poachers, rights group say
- Coast Guard fires in defense on Iran boat
- China rejects U.S. criticism over jet encounter
- Afghan candidate threatens boycott of election audit
- No clear victor in Hamas-Israel conflict