Australia's baby formula shortage. Where's it all gone?

Where on earth has Bellamy’s gone?

Parents right across the country are incensed over the sudden disappearance of Bellamy’s organic baby formula from supermarket shelves. The Australian company, who has established quite the loyal local following, has been inundated with angry messages from mums and dads who want to know where in the heck their tot’s favourite formula has gone.

People are furious. They’re having to travel far and wide for what has been dubbed ‘liquid gold’, and they want answers. Now.

But where exactly have all the Bellamy’s tins rolled off to?

Well… all the way to China. Apparently.

An upcoming Chinese online shopping event, Singles Day, on November 11, has resulted in an unprecedented increase in foreign sales of the Australian baby formula. The event is thought to be one of the largest shopping events in the world, raking in more than USD 9 billion in sales in 2014, and is perfect for opportunistic Chinese families to stock-up on family favourites and essentials. That means a lot of baby formula.

In light of China’s 2008 tragedy that saw eight babies die due to melamine poisoning, “clean and green” formula brands, like Bellamy’s and Karicare, are wildly popular across Asia.

The panic is real. (Image via Facebook)

It’s lead to a startling stock shortage that not even Laura McBain, Bellamy’s chief executive, saw coming.

“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,” she revealed to Fairfax Media, “It’s taken us by surprise.”

The company has taken off in the Asian region over the last year after becoming publicly listed, and now estimates that one third of all Australian sales are being resold in China to service the growing demand. While great for the company sales, it’s left Australian retailers and parents feeling cheated.

If you’re wondering how the babies have reacted to the shortage, we imagine they’re pulling facial expressions like this (post continues after video).

Video via funnyplox

David Do from Mums Advice Pharmacy in Bondi Junction told Fairfax that he hasn’t had a stock replenishment of Bellamy’s for two months. Meanwhile another retailer, who requested anonymity, says that Bellamy’s is withholding Aussie stock to maximise revenue from the lucrative Chinese market.

“They’re seeking to capitalise on it. They’re declining to allow Australian retailers from increasing the amount they order to fulfil the demand,” he said.

Laura McBain denies these claims, however, saying that the company’s priorities are split evenly between China and Australia.

“We have not been withholding supply where we can. We haven’t favoured any particular country or retailer. We have not been underhanded in any way in managing this situation of unprecedented demand,” she said.

“Our ambition and aim is to continue to deliver organic to as many mums possible, not just in Australia, but in China and across the globe.”

baby bottle
The formula shortage has enraged parents across Australia (Image via iStock).

Regardless of the circumstances, parents are peeved off, as Isabel Wagner, mum of a four-month-old, explained.

“There’s a lot of confusion among parents, mothers; not sure what’s going on and panic buying and everyone’s trying to grab as many tins as possible,” she said.

“You can’t just change formula brands. The baby can’t have an adverse reaction and has to like the taste. If it works for you, you tend to stick with it.”

Have you been searching for Bellamy’s formula? What do you think about the company’s recent stock shortage?