Milk Powder Shortage Hits Hong Kong

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An in Hong Kong, a milk powder shortage is angering parents there. Increasing demand from mainland China following food safety concerns and a stronger currency is leaving Hong Kong consumers scrambling to find enough for their kids.

Lingering Chinese food safety concerns and a stronger currency means a flood of Chinese parents are bulk buying milk powder from Hong Kong.

This is triggering citywide shortages and anger from some local parents.

Two years ago melamine-tainted milk powder sickened nearly 300,000 children in mainland China.

But problems are continuing to undermine public confidence including the seizure of over 100 tons of tainted milk powder last year.

Such entrenched product safety concerns have fueled rapid growth in whole milk powder imports to China.

Imports have nearly doubled to an estimated 340,000 tons in 2010, making China the world's largest market for such infant formula.

High quality and regulated products in Hong Kong mean more mainlanders are coming here to make their purchases.

[Joanne Wong, Hong Kong Resident]:
"Extremely hard to get the milk formula now. My son is only 15-months. We try to get the milk formula. Once they have stock, I have to stock up for 2-month stock, otherwise, if there is nothing left at home I can't find it."

[Joanne Wong, Hong Kong Resident]:
"Because a lot of mainland China people, they came to Hong Kong and they stock up the milk formula and go back to China for resale."

Inflated prices on the mainland will mean more Chinese mothers getting their supplies from Hong Kong.

[Wang Lan, Shenzhen, China]:
"For us in Shenzhen, those who can come over will definitely come over."

But the shortages have sparked a tide of complaints from Hong Kong parents, some having to feed their babies bread or noodles when no formula is available.