There was never a shortage of milk powder, says Friso producer

It was a mistake to limit exports and ban should be lifted in long term, company head says

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 March, 2013, 9:47am

The government's restrictions on taking infant milk formula across the border was "based on a mistake" and should be scrapped in the long term, a milk powder producer said.

"There was never a stock shortage," said Arnoud van den Berg, general manager of FrieslandCampina, the manufacturer of Friso products.

"There were always products in our stock house, but customers emptied all the shelves every time the products were put on the shelves," he said.

There were always products in our stock house, but customers emptied all the shelves every time the products were put on the shelves

"I respect the government's attention on the matter; however, it was based on a mistake that it was a supply problem," Berg told the South China Morning Post.

He added that it was unnecessary for the government to maintain the restrictions due to a periodical lack during the peak season each year.

He admitted that the demand in Hong Kong had been unpredictable as most of it was driven by mainland visitors, especially before the Lunar New Year, but the company had increased their supply to meet the needs. Though the company had exported their Holland-made product to the mainland since 2009, some customers preferred the ones in Hong Kong, he said.

The company launched a smartphone app yesterday to allow locals to order its products.

Meanwhile, the government will refine the definition of infant powdered formula under the Import and Export Ordinance to avoid confusion.

Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man said yesterday that "we hope we will be able to table an amendment to the definition of powdered formula to make it clearer".

The aim is to help front-line enforcement officers more easily identify products that are restricted, he said.

Ko maintained that the law would not be scrapped in the short term.


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