• Tue
  • Dec 23, 2014
  • Updated: 11:51am

Baby formula

Baby, or infant, formula is a manufactured food for babies often used as a substitute for breast milk. It is a powder or liquid concentrate that is mixed with water and fed through a bottle. It is widely used in Asia, which represents 53% of the global market share. In Hong Kong, a shortage in availability of baby formula led to restrictions on how much could be taken out of the city and into mainland China.

NewsHong Kong

Authorities may scrap limit on milk powder

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 September, 2013, 8:38pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 September, 2013, 7:36am


  • Yes: 15%
  • Yes,but only if locals have adequate supply: 21%
  • No: 64%
25 Sep 2013
  • Yes
  • Yes,but only if locals have adequate supply
  • No
Total number of votes recorded: 467

The government may abandon the two-tin limit on infant formula for outbound travellers, Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man said yesterday.

Ko said in a radio interview authorities would assess whether an adequate supply of the milk powder could be guaranteed for locals before and after the upcoming "golden week" holiday for National Day on October 1.

He said the two-can limit would be abolished if there was enough. But he said the government was still concerned about whether there would be a re-emergence of hoarding and parallel-goods trading.

"The precondition is to satisfy local mothers' demand for infant formula," Ko said, adding that the government would not make a decision until it had finished reviewing an upcoming report by a consultancy firm on the limit.

The rule, aimed at curbing parallel-goods trading, was introduced in March after bulk transport of the powder to the mainland was blamed for a severe local shortage of several brands. Travellers are limited to carrying no more than two tins, or 1.8kg, of formula out of the city within 24 hours of their first departure.

Hong Kong General Chamber of Pharmacy chairman Lau Oi-kwok said that if the limit was scrapped, local mothers would have to register with the makers of the product for coupons to be used at local vendors so that they could get the guaranteed six tins of infant formula a month. Lau said the chamber's 95 pharmacies would continue to stock a minimum of 36 tins of baby milk formula for each of the seven most popular brands. The seven major infant formula makers must maintain a stock of 1.65 million cans of baby formula for Hong Kong parents per month.

A spokesperson for the Hong Kong Infant and Young Child Nutrition Association said it welcomed the decision to reconsider the limit and that the quota was not being used up every month.



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Has the mainland magically improved milk powder safety over the past few months? Have they eliminated taxes to make the milk powder sell at HK-level prices? If no, then things are going to immediately revert back to how they were. Why wouldn't they? Nothing has been done to solve the fundamental problems. As Chinese families get richer, they're only going to want more and more HK milk powder. How can the local shops possibly meet the demands of every Chinese parent in the mainland?
It's insanity to think that without treating the fundamental problem, the issue will resolve itself with time.
Maybe they should shove those coupons to the mainland traders up their....
Why should HK mothers have to go through those hassle to the benefit of mainlanders?!??!
It's double talk! This is diplomacy at a higher level - a good example of yielding to pressures from up north without causing local furore. This time, it's the surplus of baby powdered milk that goes. What's next diapers?
This is a reasonable compromise. Make sure HK consumers' needs are met first, which is the HK government's fiduciary duty. Then open up the surplus to others like any good neighbour (or in CCP parlance, "compatriot") would.
Wouldn't stop the morally bankrupt folks from re-selling it on the mainland for a profit, but that's a whole different story, and beyond the purview of the HK government.
In future if there is a demand for a product in China which HK can supply without reducing supply to its own citizens, it should supply the demand, not ration it, and the HK Government should facilitate the process. That is what HK is supposed to be all about.


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