Date
29 March 2017
Ko Wing-man (inset) says shortages might return if curbs on infant formula purchases by mainlanders are lifted. Photos: HKEJ, CNSA
Ko Wing-man (inset) says shortages might return if curbs on infant formula purchases by mainlanders are lifted. Photos: HKEJ, CNSA

No plan to ease milk powder purchase curbs for now

Hong Kong has no plans to ease curbs on cross-border purchases of infant formula anytime soon despite claims supply has stabilized.

The government imposed the restrictions in 2013, limiting mainlanders to two cans of milk powder at a time.

Retailers have been urging the government to lift the ban but officials are worried shortages will return, Ming Pao Daily reports, citing Secretary for Food and Health Ko Wing-man.

On Monday, legislator Vincent Fang, who represents the wholesale and retail industry, told a radio talk show that shortages occur only in certain brands and are unlikely to affect Hong Kong consumers.

Reporters sent by the newspaper to 10 retail outlets in Mong Kok on Monday said supply was largely adequate.

Only two in 10 stores in the area have had shortages recently, they said. 

However, some parents are not convinced.

A mother of two, surnamed Ng, told the phone-in talk show that she went to 10 stores in Sheung Shui, where parallel trading of baby formula has been rampant.

She was told the product was out of stock and to try other stores in Fanling, 13 kilometers away.

Ng said Fang does not know the hardship parallel traders have done to Sheung Shui residents.

Another caller, surnamed Law, said prices of infant formula have risen to nearly HK$300 (US$38.71) per can from HK$200.

He intends to stock up on milk powder if the government decides to lift the ban.

Meanwhile, a government survey is under way to assess the market. The results will be announced by the end of the year.

Ko said the authorities will study the survey before any decision is made regarding the purchase curbs.

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BT/AC/RA

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