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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Costly baby milk in Singapore forces parents to buy in Malaysia

The Competition Commission of Singapore criticises formula milk companies for aggressive marketing, including inducements to hospitals to promote their products.
susuPETALING JAYA: Hit by the exorbitant price of infant milk formula in Singapore, an increasing number of parents in the island republic are purchasing the item across the causeway in Malaysia.

According to an article in the South China Morning Post (SCMP) yesterday, the average price of a tin of baby milk has increased by 120% over the past decade in Singapore, making it among the most expensive in the world, surpassing even Hong Kong.
It said a 900-gramme tin of Similac Stage 1 formula milk costs about RM184 in Singapore compared to RM166 in Hong Kong.
A check with the e-commerce site Lazada showed that the same item branded as Similac Step1 is being offered in Malaysia at RM112.90.
The article quoted a Singaporean mother of three children, aged one to four years, who travels across the border to get the milk as saying that she is thankful that the exchange rate between the ringgit and the Singapore dollar is in her favour.
“I used to buy formula milk in Singapore for my first two children,” the 34-year-old mother was quoted as saying.
“But by the time my third kid came along, prices had increased by so much. It became a real burden to pay that kind of money. I had to think of alternatives, so why not Malaysia?”
The report added that a tin of milk in Malaysia can cost only half the price of that offered in Singapore.
The Competition Commission of Singapore (CCM) had on Wednesday issued an 87-page report, which included recommendations to lower barriers to import of the product and improve price competition in the market.
The report also criticised formula milk companies for aggressive marketing, including inducements to hospitals to promote their products, and fanciful labelling with unsubstantiated claims that consumption makes children smarter, the SCMP article said.
It named companies like Abbott, Nestle and Danone as having been found to have given money to private hospitals and funded their programmes like corporate dinners and also shuttle transport.
The report also said that with marketing costs surging by 42.4% from 2010 to 2014, the increase was then passed on to consumers.
The SCMP article also quoted National University of Singapore’s (NUS) associate professor of law Lan Luh Luh as saying that the price of baby milk is “way too drastic for a staple food for a city state like Singapore”.
She said parents are unlikely to switch brands once the baby has been introduced to a certain brand promoted by the hospital at the child’s birth.
“That is why the companies have been tying up with private hospitals,” she was quoted as saying. “So just introducing new brands or ranges of products is unlikely to break this vicious circle. -FMT

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