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Chinese thirst for infant formula reaches U.K.

Chinese parents, desperate to access powdered milk that is not tainted, appear to be the reason why supermarkets in the United Kingdom have been asked to restrict sales of baby formula.

The Guardian is reporting Tuesday that there is evidence the products are being bought in bulk for “unofficial export” to China.

Danone wants grocery stores to restrict sales to two 900g tins per customer. Apparently, the formula has been flying off the shelves and being sold online.

In a statement, Danone said they “understand that the increased demand is being fuelled by unofficial exports to China to satisfy the needs of parents who want Western brands for their babies.

“We would like to apologize to parents for any inconvenience caused by this limit. We know that most parents only buy one pack at a time, so we hope that the impact of this limit on U.K. parents will be minimal,” the statement said.

Australia has also rationed powdered milk sales, the BBC reports.

As previously reported in our World Daily blog, powdered milk sold in Hong Kong stores has been in hot demand on the mainland since six children died and nearly 300,000 sickened from melamine laced milk in 2008.

And last year, China’s biggest milk producer, Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group was forced to recall formula tainted with mercury, Reuters reports.

Chinese authorities have had to restrict how much formula can be brought into the mainland and they’ve imposed stiff penalties of two years in prison or up to $80,000 in fines if anyone is caught smuggling in more than is allowed.

READ MORE: Hong Kong limits baby formula trade as anger grows over hoarding by mainland Chinese traders

Tanya Talaga is the Star's global economics reporter. Follow her on Twitter @tanyatalaga


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My wife and I tried to buy formula at a store here in TO that had the kind our youngest likes on sale and they were sold out by the time we got there. We saw in the check-outs some customers with shopping carts full of them- we asked them about it and they said they were sending it to China because of problems with the safety of formula in their home country. The next sale we will be ready!

All I can think of is the incredible opportunity this opens up for dairy farmers in the first world. The UK (and us in Canada, who also stand to benefit) should be thrilled to have an exportable that China really, really wants.

This is absolutely disgusting. China should have to use the tainted and poisoned products they enjoy exporting to the rest of the world. ALL stores in the West should only be allowing 1 item to be purchased, and exports to China must be stopped.

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