Baby formula isn't just for women who think they have more important things to do than breastfeed their babies. Some actually can't produce enough milk, which is a weird quirk of nature that just is what it is.
Thus, if European chemists hadn't begun in the 1800s to scientifically address the problem of how to nourish children without access to breast milk, millions all over the world today would grow up malnourished, or just die.
You might think that the Chinese would be grateful to us for sharing this scientific know-how with them, but no. Here as elsewhere, they just want to snatch as much as they can and jostle us out of the way.
CROWDS of desperate shoppers have been filmed lining up in the dark outside a Melbourne chemist to snap up baby formula the moment the doors open, before it even hits shelves.
The Herald Sun reports up to 20 customers were seen queuing from 7am on two separate occasions last week outside My Chemist, on the corner of Elizabeth Street and Flinders Lane, some with shopping trolleys.
When staff opened the doors at 7:30am, the shoppers quickly grabbed boxes of A2 and Aptamil baby formula before it could be unpacked. The shoppers reportedly queue for new deliveries three times a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
“As a long-time local resident I am dismayed that businesses are allowing people without children to profiteer at the expense of Australian mothers that do [have children],” said one local resident named Paul, who said he was “disgusted” by the practice.
OK, so if all those Chinese mothers nursing with formula back in China were to move over here and strip the pallets with their own hands, you'd have no problem then?
Another My Chemist location about 200m away has a dedicated “pack-and-send” station, where personal shoppers known as “daigou” can send their products directly to customers back in China.
Yeah, see it's becoming an accepted thing. There's actually some kind of professional association for these people headed by this plump opportunist:
There are an estimated 80,000 daigou in Australia, many of them Chinese students, some of whom can earn more than $100,000 a year selling baby formula, vitamins and skincare products to customers on social media platforms like WeChat and Weibo.
A tin of baby formula costs around $20-23 in Australia but can fetch more than double that in China, where demand for Australian-made products has soared since 2008, when six babies died and an estimated 54,000 were hospitalised by contaminated formula.
Yeah about that. Because of the scale of government corruption in China, companies engaging in all kinds of dodgy practices can just pay off the officials to look the other way.
Now, we are certainly on a slippery slide towards that level of corruption in Australia (thanks in no small part to Chinese influence); but people really need to question how it is that we came to be the sort of country where you can buy baby formula and know it won't kill your baby.
Might it have something to do with the average moral calibre of the people living in the two countries?
You see, despite all its jingoism, China is a low-trust society where people basically do not care about one another and lack all sense of social responsibility. A few years ago, for example, a video went semi-viral of a child being repeatedly run over while passersby just passed on by in the city of Guangzhou.
Of course, I understand that people will say it's just an isolated incident; but go ahead and watch, and just see if you can remotely imagine this scene playing out in a white Australian city.
Despite purchase limits and the launch of a dedicated diagou retailer, intended to bring some order to the grey market trade, chaotic scenes of shoppers stripping supermarket and chemist shelves of formula have not stopped.
Could it perhaps have something to do with the size of the Chinese population relative to ours?
Is there a lesson to be learned about not sharing a bed with a giant who can easily roll over and crush you?
Or is it, you know, just good for the economy or whatever?
Earlier this year, a Brisbane mum snapped photos of Woolworths customers filling up an entire trolley full of baby formula in full view of the supermarket’s service desk, blatantly flouting the purchase limit.
In October, customers were filmed stuffing cans into their baskets straight from a loading pallet at a Coles in Melbourne. The previous month, a Brisbane shopper filmed a group of women running into a Coles to grab fresh stock, while in August another Brisbane mum snapped photos of groups of up to eight people stripping shelves.
Predictions that moves by brands including A2 and Bellamy’s to sell more product direct into China would kill off the industry have also not been borne out.
Ben Sun, director of marketing consultancy Think China, has previously said the “grassroots diagou”, the ones who go to Coles, Woolworths or Chemist Warehouse, would “always be there”.
“It is usually a part-time or side business they’re doing,” he said. “As a part-time job, [they would be earning] roughly $20,000 to $30,000 a year. Someone earning over $100,000 is probably not someone that goes to Coles and Woolworths to clear shelves.
“The two-can limit seems to be the best we can do. You can’t really stop people buying from retail shops, and you can’t judge people by their race or the language they speak.”
Yeah, just because you have "Chinese Australian" children singing a song with the words "the black-eyed, black-haired, and yellow-skinned are forever the descendants of the dragon," it doesn't mean these people aren't just like you and me.
According to the recently launched Australia China Daigou Association, the daigou market is worth an estimated $850 million annually. The launch of the ACDA received bipartisan political support.
“Daigou is an important and fast-growing trade channel for Australia,” Small Business Minister Craig Laundy said last month, with Shadow Trade Minister Jason Clare adding, “Daigou benefit the Australian economy by stimulating opportunities for Australian manufactures to sell into China.”
Just like Chinese buyers benefit the the economy by stimulating opportunities for Australian realtors to sell the ground under our feet to China.
And with Chinese companies buying up so many of our dairy producers, we can look forward to shortages on the domestic market in future. You see, these companies' prime directive is to supply the motherland. When our farmers are sold to Chinese companies, they might as well be sold to the Chinese Government itself, because in every listed company there has a Party committee issuing directives in line with the current Five Year Plan. Even if Australian consumers could outbid 1.4 billion Chinese, the PCC would want to make sure there was enough milk to nourish the "children of the dragon" before our babies would get any.
And then what if there's a drought? What if there's a melamine health scare or a disease outbreak due to Chinese farming practices? Are the daigus going to let up then of their own volition? Will our prostrate Government one day try to make a stand?
Then empty supermarket shelves might take on a whole new level of seriousness.