I’m down to my last tin of formula.
For the last two weeks I have driven from supermarket to supermarket from chemist to chemist to get just one tin. If I am lucky there may be one tin left on the shelf.
There are “formula wars” happening in your local supermarket all over Australia at the moment from desperate mothers trying to feed their babies.
It is the hunger games for mothers. The one thing that you cannot live without to help your baby survive. Formula.
This isn’t going to be a post where I want to get into the pros and cons of breast v’s formula. For Baby Raj, I have done both. However, one of the most stressful thing I have encountered is no access to formula for your baby. In the year 2015 you would expect that you could have ready access to baby formula.
How long does a can of formula last? For me, probably just under a week and I just have one child. Do I stock pile? Well I try when I can get my hands on it at the moment but only generally when on sale. Formula isn’t cheap. The formula I use costs $24.70 a can. Stockpiling at a price point like this is not even an option for some family budgets.
So why is this happening? Well, demand in China for Australian infant formula and other health products has skyrocketed since 2008 when melamine contamination saw six babies die and 300,000 fall ill.
Since then, many chemists and supermarkets including Chemist Warehouse, Priceline, Aldi, Coles and Woolworths across Melbourne and Sydney have introduced limits on the number of tins per customer to prevent Chinese nationals depleting supply for locals (it was 4 tins now it is 2 tins per person). You see, you can make your fortune in China selling Australian baby formula.
The limits have proven difficult to enforce, with shelves often stripped bare as quickly as new stock arrives. In 2013, a $25 tin of formula would sell for about $55. Today, the same tin can fetch over $100. I have seen one can online this week for sale openly for $135.
I sympathise with families overseas who do not have access to the same quality of products and vitamin/ supplements that we do. Everyone should have the ability to access quality products. However there is a serious problem when local mums around the country cannot get one tin of formula to feed there babies whilst pallets, yes pallets (!) are being shipped to China to go on the black market (Yes I am naming you Chemist Warehouse!)
Online mum forums are going crazy. Mothers have taken to sharing where there is formula available across the country to help others “Quick guys I’ve just seen a few tins at store XYZ”.
There are horror stories of Coles and Woollies not even getting the pallets unpacked where families have taken entire shopping trolleys. The supermarket chains have started to put a 2 can limit now in these stores, signs in both English and Mandarin but this hasn’t helped. It is not the stores fault and the staff have been actually really lovely and helpful. It is the suppliers that cannot keep up with the demand that has escalated to crazy heights over the last few weeks.
Companies such as Bellamy Organic have shared on their website that they cannot keep up with this unprecedented demand in October however they expect they will be able to improve stocks from late November so we may see the situation improve soon.
Of course there are options to buy online – you just have to get organised and have the cash. Companies are providing preference to Australian and New Zealand customers and limiting 3 tins a week. However shipping costs are a killer with charges around $30 for 1-3 days delivery and $13.20 for 5-7 days delivery. Plus the tins are charged at full price – no supermarket sale prices. So do you save the cash and spend hours driving from store to store trying to find a can or pay nearly $100 for 3 tins and have them at your door within 3 days? Both options aren’t really appealing for young families that generally don’t have the time nor the money.
We have a crisis.
We have been caught up in an illegal formula trade and our babies are the ones that are losing out. Mr Turnbull, please help us mums. We are tired, exhausted and don’t need to beg for a tin of formula just to feed our babies.
It has gotten to a point where mums are offering to complete strangers online unopened cans or half opened cans just to get them through.
What has happened to our lucky country?
Linking in with Grace
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