Shoppers filmed rushing for baby formula in Sydney supermarket amid fears of supply issues
While some shoppers were scrambling for prawns and dinner rolls on Christmas Eve, others were making a mad dash for the baby formula.
- Sydney dad says he saw shoppers rushing for baby formula as soon as supermarket doors opened
- Coles’s formula policy limits shoppers to buying two units per customer
- A Choice spokeswoman says supply issues were more localised than the shortages of 2015
A scrum of shoppers was filmed rushing for the powdered formula at the Wentworth Point Coles in Sydney within minutes of the store’s opening.
Father Alfa Rein recorded the frantic scene just after 7am.
“I went for a morning walk and needed to get lemons from Coles, so I stopped by and saw there was quite a few people lining up waiting for them to open,” he said.
Mr Rein went to the supermarket for lemons but followed the group of shoppers to see what they were rushing towards. (Facebook: Alfa Rein/NEX LOAN)
“They waited on one side and the Coles staff opened the entrance on the other side, the group then ran to the other side and ran inside Coles pushing each other aside.
“The Coles staff basically just moved aside and let them run in. [They] knocked over a few cherry boxes on the floor.
“I followed them to the aisle they rushed to and figured it’s gotta be for baby formula.”
Earlier this month, a Coles spokeswoman told the ABC the supermarket was “committed to ensuring our customers have access to infant formula and as a result we are limiting sales quantities to two units per customer”.
“We are working with our suppliers on solutions to improve availability for customers,” the spokeswoman said.
Mr Rein said he saw “a few” of the customers taking more than two cans on Monday morning, but did not know if checkout operators let them purchase more than two at once.
Mr Rein buys formula for his son, who is nearly three months old.
“We usually just buy one whenever we see stock at a supermarket,” he said.
“Lucky we still have three cans at home.”
Empty shelves in the baby formula aisle at a Woolworths in Walkerville, South Australia, in September 2017. (ABC News: Sarah Scopelianos)
The video comes a day after Seven News reported on a similar surge of shoppers targeting baby formula at Coles in the Brisbane suburb of Sunnybank.
Like Mr Rein’s video, the footage broadcast by Seven showed customers hurriedly buying tins of the powdered formula.
The shoppers were “running from the store with multiple tins in hand” according to the report, leaving the shelves “almost bare”.
More than a dozen people contacted the ABC this month concerned about Chinese personal shoppers — known as daigou — buying large amounts of formula in Australia to be exported overseas.
The ABC does not suggest that Coles, the shoppers or their distributors are operating illegally.
Consumer group Choice spokeswoman Erin Turner told the ABC earlier this month that it appeared supply issues for Australian parents were more localised than the widespread problems experienced in 2015.
“It stems from safety issues and [Chinese] parents wanting to do the right thing by their children,” Ms Turner said.
China has had several food contamination scares, including the deaths of six babies in 2008 from melamine-tainted milk.
She said there had been a “shift in the market” when some companies began selling directly to China but noted the localised shortages in Australia would “frustrate” parents.
Mr Turner said it was clear that stores that did not monitor limits had formula shortages, but Choice was not calling for regulation changes on formula sales.