Parents face bigger formula bills as shortages force up dairy prices

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 January, 2008, 12:00am


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The prices of milk powder and other dairy products would continue to surge because of a shortage, a food trader warned yesterday.

His comments followed recent fears that the price of bakery products would rocket with the imposition at the beginning of the year of a ban on mainland exports of flour to Hong Kong, which mainland authorities lifted on Sunday.

Hong Kong Food Council member Lee Kwong-lam said the prices of dairy products such as milk, milk powder and butter had surged in the past month.

A 900 gram can of Mead Johnson milk powder had risen from HK$140 to HK$170, a Wyeth product had risen from HK$115 to HK$130, and Black and White condensed milk had risen 12.5 per cent in the month, while butter prices had doubled in six months, Mr Lee said.

The cause of the rises was a surge in the price of cattle fodder due to bad harvests in some regions, such as drought-stricken Australia.

Mr Lee said the prices of some dairy products would continue rising on a monthly basis and supply would not meet demand.

However, a spokeswoman for ParknShop said that while some of the supermarket chain's milk powder suppliers had increased prices at the end of last year, the price increases were mild.

She said milk powder supplies and prices had been relatively stable recently. The company would monitor the market closely and try to maintain price levels.

A media report quoted a dispensary owner as saying the powdered milk shortage was serious and prices of some brands had risen by 20 per cent in the past six months. Some brands were in short supply, while stocks of others, especially formulas for infants and toddlers under three, had run out. A mother was quoted as saying she could not find her preferred brand after a search from Mong Kok to Sham Shui Po.