China's Singles Day sparks baby formula shortage in Australia

AFP

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Bellamy's chief executive Laura McBain said the huge demand from China, which started before Singles Day, had "taken us by surprise". Bellamy's chief executive Laura McBain said the huge demand from China, which started before Singles Day, had "taken us by surprise".

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An Australian company has apologized to mothers after its premium organic baby milk formula flew off supermarket shelves ahead of China's Singles Day buying frenzy on Wednesday.
Consumers spent US$9 billion in the first 12 hours of Singles Day, a 24-hour retailing bonanza that is the world's biggest online shopping day, with infant formula maker Bellamy's Organic caught up its the wake.
Bellamy's, based in the southern island of Tasmania, apologized to its Australian customers in a Facebook post Tuesday after complaints they were unable to buy the formula, nicknamed "white gold", at their local stores.
"We understand at this time, it is difficult to source our range of products and acknowledge the frustration this causes," said the company.
Bellamy's chief executive Laura McBain said the huge demand from China, which started before Singles Day, had "taken us by surprise".
"As a result, supermarket shelves in Australia are being wiped out. We didn't anticipate we'd have a situation where mums couldn't access our products," McBain told the Sydney Morning Herald on Sunday.
The shortage of products in Australian stores is believed to be caused by some customers buying the formula in bulk and then reselling them online to Chinese shoppers.
Demand for foreign infant milk products has soared following a series of food scares in China, including a 2008 scandal over locally-produced tainted formula that left six children dead and made more than 300,000 ill.
Brand owner Bellamy's Australia, which listed on the Australian Securities Exchange in August last year, has seen its shares rocket from its $1 (US$0.71) offer price to trade above Aus$10.00 in just 15 months.
A woman walks past a "Singles Day" sale promotional board at the entrance of a shop in Beijing on November 11, 2015. Photo: AFP/Wang Zhao
IG Markets' analyst Angus Nicholson told AFP the rise was a reflection of the demand for "new China stocks" -- companies that cater to the country's middle class consumers.
"It's seen a huge spike just this week, and a lot of it has been driven by the Singles Day sales in China," Nicholson added.
"It's almost been completely impossible for consumers in Australia and New Zealand to get hold of infant formula powder... because it's all been shipped off to China for this bulk-buying on online sales websites."
Nicholson said a number of other Australian companies, such as vitamins and supplements maker Blackmores, have also seen their stocks perform "very strongly".
Shares in Bellamy's Australia closed 2.71 percent higher to Aus$9.84 in Sydney on Wednesday.
"Singles Day" was first marketed as an "anti-Valentine's Day" in China and featured hefty discounts to lure the country's singletons and price-sensitive buyers.
 

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