HONG KONG: Hong Kong introduced measures yesterday to tackle a shortage of baby milk formula as food-safety-conscious mainland Chinese people flock to the city to stock up on supplies ahead of a Lunar New Year holiday.
The Hong Kong government cut the luggage allowance on trains that connect the city to the mainland to 23kg from 32kg and limited the number of cans of milk powder a person can take back into the mainland to two per visit.
It said it would also set up a hot line from last evening allowing Hong Kong mothers to place orders for seven brands of infant formula and ensure that orders placed by this weekend are delivered by the new year holiday, which starts on February 10 and runs for a week in China, when most shops are closed.
A series of scandals involving food produced in China, including milk, has sapped the confidence of many mainland consumers, who have flocked to Hong Kong to shop, angering residents of the wealthy city who say the problem has led to shortages and pushed up prices.
“The scandals here definitely have had an effect,” said Kevin Der Arslanian, a business analyst at China Market Research Group in Shanghai. “People don’t trust necessarily that the product they buy is real or the quality is good.”
High import taxes in China have also created a thriving grey market for traders who buy products tax-free in Hong Kong and take them on crowded trains across the border on trolleys, in suitcases or stuffed in their jackets, to resell for a profit.