The fight over baby formula binge buying in Australian supermarkets is heating up, with one Melbourne mum claiming she watched a group of four people strip her local store of baby formula in minutes, despite a four tin limit.
The supermarket chain, Woolworths, has promised to investigate how the group were allowed to walk away with the store’s entire supply of hard-to-find A2 Platinum baby formula when parents have been rationed to a four tin maximum.
Outraged, Jessica took some photographs on her mobile phone, as another customer begged a Woolworths staff member to stop the sale.
“My blood was boiling for the mothers having problems finding A2 for their babies. I was feeling sensitive because I’ve got a newborn,” the Mernda mother-of-two tells Fairfax.
“If they were with babies, it would be understandable, they need to feed their kids too. But it felt like a smooth operation, like they did this all the time.”
Another customer walked past Jennifer at the store and said “I can’t believe that’s actually happening”, she says.
Jennifer says the employee serving the group at the checkout looked young and unaware of the store’s four-tin limit.
She posted the images on a Facebook group for local mothers, which has since gained thousands of likes, shares and comments.
“Buying in bulk shouldn’t be allowed, especially formula,” says Belinda Compton on the Facebook page.
Emma Cope writes that she went to numerous breastfeeding classes with no success and so had to go to formula. “Tried everything on the market and found only Bellamy’s Organic worked for my daughter. Everything else gave her reflux and digestive issues. I have had to travel all over the eastern suburbs of Melbourne to find tins of formula,” she says.
Tammy Dryden has a similar problem: “I’m having trouble getting my daughter Bellamy’s formula as every time they get a shipment and put it on the shelves it’s gone straight away.”
Baby formula can be found for sale on the black market through eBay and e-commerce websites for two to three times the Australian retail price.
Jennifer’s son Archie, three months, is using S26 formula which is also hard to come by. Jennifer found some at a supermarket four hours away and had to get her mother to buy it for her.
Woolworths and Coles are facing growing pressure to nationalise and strictly enforce a four-tin limit.
A2 chief executive Geoff Babidge told Fairfax earlier this year that its infant formula sales were on track to triple this financial year and Australian shoppers and Chinese consumers are fuelling that growth.
“We are clearly demonstrating that we are having enormous traction with Chinese nationals. There is no question about that,” he says.