Chinese-Australian mother says she feels judged over formula bulk buying


A Chinese-Australian mother has told SBS she often feels other parents suspect her of selling baby formula to China if she goes shopping without her 11-month-old son.

A Chinese-Australian mother says she feels like other parents suspect her of bulk buying infant formula if she goes shopping without her baby son.

Jin Huang told SBS if she bought formula for her 11-month-old son when he was not with her she felt other parents were judging her.

"People look at me as if I am getting it and selling it to China," Ms Huang said.

"I've heard that from a lot of Chinese mums and a few of my friends as well."

There has been outcry from parents this week after a photograph was posted online showing a group of four adults buying two trolley loads of baby formula from a Melbourne Woolworths store.

Woolworths has a limit of eight tins per customer and parents were upset the staff in the picture were not enforcing the limit.

There is high demand in China for Australian baby formula after it was revealed locally produced formula was tainted with melamine in 2008.

Hard-to-find formulas like Bellamy's and A2 Platinum were often available online for several times the price paid in supermarkets - often $100 or more per tin.

Many parents blame people who stock up on formula and sell it on to China for the current infant formula shortage in Australia.

Ms Huang said she had been using formula for most of her son's life as she was not able to breastfeed him but had only recently been having difficulty finding formula.

"It is really hard for a lot of mums and we ask our friends to look around and let us know [if they see any]," Ms Huang said.

"Sometimes I don't have the time to go shopping and when I do I just see empty shelves. I never seem to get there quick enough when they have stock."

Ms Huang said she had recently been able to buy some from the Bellamy's website and had had to stock up herself to ensure she had enough to feed her son.

She said one tin would not usually last longer than a week.

She said she was reluctant to change her son to a different brand of formula because it would give him diarrohea and discomfort.

"No one really cares the local mums can't get any, but I do understand mums [in China] do have the demand as well.

"I think [the supermarkets] should do something. They have to the notices with the limit of tins per customer, but a lot of people are buying in bulk and they are just letting it happen."

Woolworths told SBS in a statement the supermarket "works to ensure there is always sufficient stock for all of our customers in our supermarkets". 

"In the case of baby formula we have an eight can limit per transaction to make sure all shoppers have the opportunity to purchase the items they need," the statement said.

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