Baby formula has become a precious commodity. Picture: News Corp Australia
Baby formula has become a precious commodity. Picture: News Corp Australia

Black-market baby formula gang busted

POLICE have cracked a black-market baby formula ring - arresting seven people and finding hundreds of tins of allegedly stolen milk powder.

Officers raided properties at Richmond, Sunshine and Braybrook in Melbourne on Thursday, uncovering more than $300,000 worth of allegedly stolen property including baby formula and beauty products as well as about $500,000 cash.

A 34-year-old Footscray man has been charged with handling stolen goods and six others, ranging in age from 31 to 77, are being interviewed.

Detective Sergeant Mark Anderson told the Herald Sunofficers also seized beauty products.

"We found pawpaw, perfume and face creams and just the general items you can buy at the supermarkets," he told the paper.

"The cash found is believed to be made as a profit from selling these stolen goods."

Sgt Anderson said the products were sold interstate and overseas, as well as in Victoria.

Formula crisis

Baby formula has become a highly sought after product - which some are calling "white gold" - and the methods some parents are using to get hold of it are controversial.

Videos of full trolleys and empty shelves have flooded social media in recent months.

In the past month footage emerged of hundreds of daigou - or personal shoppers - at the back of a Chemist Warehouse store, selecting from hundreds of tins of baby formula.

Parents have been up in arms about the burgeoning grey market practice, which while legal, has seen "daigou" professional shoppers emptying Coles and Woolworths of stock.

Methods of stockpiling “white gold” have been controversial. Picture: Ellen Smith/News Corp Australia
Methods of stockpiling “white gold” have been controversial. Picture: Ellen Smith/News Corp Australia

The demand for Australian-made organic baby formula has skyrocketed in China, where trust in local dairy products has plummeted. The fallout is being felt in Australian homes and on supermarket shelves.

Daigou have been known to sell tins of baby formula for up to $200 each to desperate buyers, and pocket the hefty profits.

Considering the overwhelming demand for baby formula both in Australia and in China, major retailers have begun to strictly enforce limits on how many tins customers can buy.



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