Since melamine was discovered in locally produced baby formula in China during 2008, a semi-licit global trade in expensive white powder has developed, notably in Holland, to the point where it has led the government to impose purchasing restrictions.
A Dutch supermarket manager in a large urban supermarket, who gave his last name as Bakker, knows all about Chinese food scandals. “Yes, of course we closely follow these developments,” he said. So far he decided against any signs. “That would be too discriminating. But we do want to protect our local customers. This is not about profit—our milk powder is subsidized by the Dutch government. It is about societal responsibility.” He understands the motivations of Chinese traders, but says Dutch sellers have been forced to these measures by “professional networks of Chinese extended families that systematically buy up supplies within a 10 km range.” While his store has noticed increased milk powder sales for years, the situation has become very noticeable in the second half of 2012, “possibly because the traders are becoming more organizationally sophisticated.”
via. I dread to think what would happen if this hit the UK in a big way: it's pure Daily Mail bait, except that it's difficult to blame on the EU.
Obviously, if markets worked as they were supposed to, manufacturers would ramp up production, thereby also relieving the problems of oversupply in the dairy farming industry. On the other hand, the article notes that parents have become accustomed to paying huge amounts for baby formula, and perhaps that’s the way the manufacturers like it. So do the baby milk arbitrageurs.
If you’re wondering about breast feeding in China, check this out. Rates are low because of a combination of hyper aggressive marketing by companies and a persistent belief that mothers can’t produce enough milk unaided to feed their babies properly. This may be a holdover from when most people in China had a bare sufficiency of food, or even a memory of the outright famine associated with the Great Leap Forward, something that may be at the back of a doting granny's mind as she shells out her life savings on half a ton of Dutch wailing powder. Of course, It also might be something to do with the aforesaid hyper aggressive baby formula marketing.