Australian supermarkets and pharmacies were running out of popular baby formula yesterday after unprecedented sales reportedly due to Chinese customers trying to snap up supplies.
Nutricia, supplier of top-selling Karicare, said there was a surge in demand for its products which had seen stocks plummet and left shelves empty.
Supermarket Coles said it was trying to arrange extra shipments of infant formula. Some pharmacies were rationing sales to a few cans per customer.
Media reports said Chinese residents and tourists were buying formula in bulk and shipping it back home for their families or sometimes selling it online.
"Chinese visitors buy as many cans as they can fit into their luggage to take back to China," one manager of a pharmacy near a big hotel in Sydney told The Daily Telegraph newspaper.
Many Chinese people are suspicious of domestically produced milk following a major food safety scandal in 2008 in which six children died and 300,000 others fell ill after drinking milk tainted with the industrial chemical melamine.
Nutricia said it was "working with supply partners to increase production capacity by 50 per cent over the next 12 months".