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  • Aug 30, 2014
  • Updated: 10:50pm
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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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This article is now closed to comments

Dai Muff
However, even while they were saying supply was guaranteed before, some local shops were profiteering on it by selling primarily to mainlanders, and prices were being driven up. The supply problems may have been artificially created - I suspect they were - but they were there.
boondeiyan
Yes, "some local shops"; or perhaps some individuals and companies elsewhere in the supply chain, not the manufacturers. Despite the manufacturers' providing free local delivery of formula (which your own comment above suggests that YOU never made use of; it worked fine for us), both the HK government and a seemingly large number of HK people and their favourite news media have preferred to whip up hysterical xenophobia as a pretext for yet more regulation to distort the economy without fixing the problem.
SpeakFreely
I kept saying the law is not necessary as long as manufacturers can promise government of adequate of supply. And that is easy to achieve thru online ordering or by phone via government hotline. Recently the hotline is not busy at all. This is much efficient than checking out milk powder at the border creating all sort off problems. Hk government is hopeless. Civil Servants are also hopeless as they don't even know how to differential cereal and milk powder not following the guideline but try to interpret the law.
Dai Muff
In other words, you were profiteering, and now the restrictions are in it's affecting your sales.
SpeakFreely
What's wrong if they are making money? As long as local supplies are guaranteed.
babyhenry
Cause making money is evil nowadays thanks to the resurregent of "true" leftist liberals which knows litterally nothing about economics and think that money grow on trees.
Dai Muff
Local supplies were NOT guaranteed at the point this was introduced.
crbfile
great comment!

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