Jumbo limits baby formula sales to prevent black market trade

A number of Jumbo stores in the Netherlands has decided to only sell Nutrilon baby milk powder to customers who spend at least 10 to 25 euros, Trouw reports. With this measure the supermarkets hope to keep away traders who buy Nutrilon in bulk only to resell it to China.

These traders have been buying up cans of the baby milk powder for several years, making it difficult for Dutch parents to buy baby food. Stores have tried other measures, like a limit of one can per customer, to prevent this in the past, but these have proven insufficient.

Kees van Vlaanderen of the Jumbo supermarket in Diemen is one of those who decided to put a minimum-amount-spent in place. In that store customers must now spend at least 10 euros before they can buy a can of Nutrilon. According to Van Vlaanderen, there were about 15 people on the sidewalk before the shop opened in the morning, Trouw reports. "They then each buy one can of milk powder, and within half an hour our daily quota of 20 was reached and I was sold out." When he tried to keep these people out, he was accused of racism. Although Van Vlaanderen is "very unhappy" about this new measure, he can not think of anything better that is just as effective.

The Jumbo in Waddinxveen did the same with a 25 euro minimum purchase amount, Trouw reports. "It has nothing to do with tied sales. I have made this decision in in the interests of the client, the Dutch mothers", said owner Albert Blaauw. "It is purely to eliminate the traders and it succeeded. The shelves are full again and patrons can buy again."

Nutrilon has been a scarce commodity in the Netherlands since the baby food scandal in China in 2008. The poisonous substance melamine was discovered in a local baby milk powder product. Six babies died and about 300 thousand children became sick. Since then Chinese people do not trust their own products and the trade in Dutch baby food became a booming business.