Since then there have continued to be reports of contaminated milk products being sold. Whether tainted products are still being produced or whether milk powder that was withdrawn earlier is being put back on the market isn't clear. What is clear is that consumers don't trust the quality of locally produced milk products and foreign brands are in high demand.
The result is a lucrative grey market for foreign milk products available in Hong Kong and other neighboring countries. There have been shortages in Hong Kong as large quantities of milk powder have been purchased in HK and taken across the border to be resold in China to parents anxious to provide safe, nutritious milk for their children. In March the Hong Kong government introduced measures to ensure an adequate milk powder supply for Hong Kong families and restricted the amount of milk powder that can be taken across the border to two cans (total of 1.8kg) per person.
The demand for foreign milk powder has not been limited to countries adjacent to China. The impact has been felt as far away as England, the Netherlands, and Australia anywhere milk products with a reputation for quality are available to overseas Chinese or Chinese tourists. The demand for high quality, trustworthy milk products is making a global impact.
It's also making an impact nationally in China. With confidence in the quality of domestic milk products so low that 60% of mainland consumers buy foreign milk products (figure does not include those buying grey market goods) and the China Dairy Association's efforts to boost consumer confidence in local products drawing criticism, the need to make real changes to ensure food safety is being recognized. In a recent nationally televised conference, Premier Li Keqiang highlighted the need for "strict market supervision and harsh penalties to ensure food safety" to restore the trust of the Chinese people in Chinese-produced food products. When they are confident that the food they buy in China whether it is milk powder, mutton, or bottled vinegar is what it says it is, the need to buy foreign will diminish.
Chinese Church Voices picked up on a thoughtful parallel in the spiritual lives of mainland Christians. Check out the translation of the mainland published Christian Times article "The Milk Powder Crisis as a Spiritual Lesson: Have You Mixed Additives to Spiritual Milk?"
Image Source: The New York Times
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