Firm admits mislabeling milk as imported, allegedly to woo customers

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Dai Hung Tinh Company imported goat-milk powder, produced formula and other products, and brazenly labeled them as imports

GmB goat milk powder is produced in Vietnam but labeled as imported from the Netherlands, and is sold at exorbitant prices

A Ho Chi Minh City-based company has admitted to falsely labeling its goat-milk formula and other products as imported.

Dai Hung Tinh Company (Great Bear Int'l Co. Ltd.) imported goat milk powder from the Netherlands, added some other nutrients under a formula licensed by GmB Food International [company] in the US, and sold it under the GmB label, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper quoted Nguyen Thi Hong Gam, the firm's deputy director, as saying.

Dai Hung Tinh distributes three goat milk products - for babies from one to three and above three years, and for older adults - in 425-gram plastic tins labeled in English.

They are labeled as "Made in the Netherlands" and "Manufacturing under license of GMB Food International LLC."

An extra label in Vietnamese indicates the origin as Dutch and imported and distributed by Dai Hung Tinh.

Gam claimed her company produces the milk powder in Vietnam to reduce costs.

The products are sold for up to VND490,000 (US$23.4) while comparable products cost only VND100,000-250,000.

But, according to Tuoi Tre, Dai Hung Tinh itself pays only VND78,000 for 425 grams of milk powder.

In 2012 the company imported around 15 tons of milk powder from the Netherlands, or equivalent to nearly 35,300 cans.

As of Wednesday they were still on the shelves of many supermarkets and dairy shops.

The Vietnam Food Administration has only licensed Dai Hung Tinh to make products locally.

Gam also admitted that the picture of a GmB Food factory in the US on Dai Hung Tinh's website is actually another factory unrelated to GmB.

"It is just for demonstration. The website is just a tool to introduce our products to the customers," she claimed.

GmB brand goat milk is also found in supermarket shelves with a label saying the importer is UNI Trading International Co. Ltd, 458A Tran Hung Dao Street, HCMC.

But the city Department of Planning and Investment has listed the company as closed.

Vietweek's efforts to contact GmB Food International LLC's headquarters in California, the US, and GmB Food International B.V. in the Netherlands have been in vain as of press time.

Taken for an expensive ride

The false label has deceived many customers who prefer imported milk products, laboring under the belief that high prices mean better quality.

Le Quang Manh, owner of a dairy shop in HCMC, said he sells many products imported from the US, New Zealand, Russia, the Netherlands, and others.

"Customers tend to think that imported and expensive milk is of outstanding quality compared to local products. Many of them do not pay attention to the nutrition facts.

"Thus, there are many new brands with very high prices in the last two years."

The director of a supermarket chain in HCMC, who wanted to be identified only as H., said she was not aware that the goat milk products were fake.

"We sell goat milk because many people have begun to choose it. I thought GmB goat milk was imported from the Netherlands."

An official from the HCMC Market Management Agency, who wished to remain unnamed, said his agency had never inspected GmB goat milk products.

In such cases the producer is allowed to indicate the origin of the raw materials, but has to mention that it was manufactured or packed in Vietnam, he said.

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