Retailers, milk brands co-operate on vouchers

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 April, 2013, 3:57am

Pharmacies and milk powder manufacturers are working on a plan to guarantee enough baby formula for local mothers in return for the government cancelling the export restrictions.

General Chamber of Pharmacy members met representatives from popular brands of infant formula yesterday and agreed to co-operate on a proposal to secure supplies for Hongkongers.

Earlier, the chamber proposed a voucher scheme that guaranteed each baby six tins of milk formula every month. Parents can buy them at any of 60 participating pharmacies.

"Local parents of newborn babies should apply for memberships of 'mothers' clubs' hosted by the milk formula suppliers," Lam Wai-man, vice-chairman of the chamber said.

"They will be given a voucher that they can present to pharmacy employees during their purchase."

The scheme requires co-operation from formula manufacturers to verify the identities of parents before giving out the vouchers. The makers also needed to increase their supplies to the pharmacies, Lam said.

The city saw a lack of milk formula shortly before the Lunar New Year mainly because of inadequate replenishment of stocks, he said. That could be solved if manufacturers replenished stocks more often.

Once the local appetite for milk was fed, the government should no longer bother with the trading of surplus stocks, he said.

The chamber will present its final proposal to the government on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the government has no intention of cancelling the restrictions - which from March 1 cap the amount of milk formula a person can carry across the border to two tins - any time soon.

Only people who carry a permit from the Trade and Industry Department can re-export infant milk powder but that comes with a prerequisite - one must be a registered milk formula importer, a department spokesman said.