Baby milk formula producers plan to end export restrictions

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 April, 2013, 8:52pm
UPDATED : Friday, 26 April, 2013, 9:17pm

Seven manufacturers of baby milk formula on Friday proposed a new system to ensure a steady supply of their product to Hong Kong parents, hoping this could persuade the government to cancel restrictions on its export.

Under the proposed system, local mothers will be guaranteed six cans of milk formula per month, using coupons issued by the Hong Kong General Chamber of Pharmacy to parents who have registered in a special booking system. The coupons will be redeemable at 69 pharmacies across the city.

The manufacturers estimate that Hong Kong babies consume 1.1 million cans of milk formula per month and are planning to enhance their supply chains to maintain a reserve of more than this number for local needs.

Whole and retail sector legislator Vincent Fang Kang, who is helping the manufacturers, said on Friday he hoped the government could drop the two-can limit imposed on travellers if the new system proved effective.

A new rule was imposed in March to limit all unlicensed exports of powdered formula to two cans per traveller per day. The measure is aimed at curbing a shortage caused by parallel-goods traders who buy up the milk formula in Hong Kong, then take it to the mainland for resale.

Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man has said the government would maintain the restriction until there were ways to guarantee sufficient supplies to local babies.