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.