An outraged Sydney dad struggling to find baby formula for his toddler amid the unceasing demand from “daigou” says the issue of bare shelves is getting worse.
On Friday night, Jason Wu snapped a photo of a woman outside Hurstville Woolworths in Sydney’s south with what appeared to be two trolleys full of baby formula.
Earlier that day, another customer at the same store filmed a group of around eight customers working in teams to grab “more than 80 tins” off the shelves. The woman described the scene as “disgusting”, telling 7 News staff “said there was nothing they could do”.
“The two tin per transaction doesn’t do jack,” Mr Wu wrote on Facebook where he posted the photo. “The shelves are bare every day. They just load up a trolley of boxes and perform multiple transactions.”
Mr Wu said he took the photo at around 11pm. “It’s not like a single person, it’s like a team,” he said. “One person does two transactions and moves it to the trolley outside, comes back and does another two transactions. The staff can’t do anything about it.”
The 35-year-old finance worker said he struggles to find the brand of Aptamil formula his two-year-old son needs. “Just recently it’s harder to go to the shop and buy it,” he said.
“I just need one or two max, stores have just had nothing. I end up trying other stores, Chemist Warehouse, Woolworths, Coles, Big W, they just don’t have anything. It’s gotten worse.”
The baby formula crisis has been a headache for local mums four at least the past four years and shows no signs of abating. Supermarkets and chemists have implemented purchase limits but they are largely unenforceable.
“The demand is always there,” Mr Wu said. “Suppliers say they’re increasing (production), supermarkets say they’re increasing (stock), but you just have to go to the shelves and there’s nothing there. There should be strict rules, but it’s hard to enforce.”
According to Woolworths, however, the photo taken by Mr Wu is not what it seems. “The boxes depicted in the trolley were empty,” a spokeswoman said. “They did not contain any baby formula tins.”
The spokeswoman said Woolworths had a two-tin purchase limit in place and “our store teams work hard to ensure stock is available for our customers”.
“We continue to closely manage the flow of stock so our customers can have access to formula when they need it,” she said.
“We encourage any parents who find their chosen baby formula is unavailable on the shelves to speak with their store manager, so we can help get them stock as quickly as possible.”
There are now an estimated 80,000 daigou, or “personal shoppers”, who buy Australian products from shelves and ship them to customers in China, in some cases raking in more than $100,000 a year.
Every few weeks another video emerges of groups of shoppers stripping shelves and even jostling with one another other. There have even been angry confrontations in the street.
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