Singapore

Supermarkets looking to develop house brand infant milk powder

At least one supermarket chain is exploring the possibility of developing an affordable house brand infant milk powder amid public unhappiness over high prices.

Cold Storage Singapore has approached its trade partners for recommendations on sources of high quality and sustainable milk supply, chief executive David Goh told The Straits Times yesterday.

Its immediate efforts are focused on exploring alternative sourcing options however, as developing affordable infant milk powder under house brands would take time, Mr Goh said.

This follows a recommendation by the Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) last week for retailers to introduce house brands, which it said will help to widen the pool of suppliers here.

The ever-increasing prices of formula milk by the six major manufacturers that dominate the market here have led the Government to take steps to address the issue.

These include tightening regulations on advertising and labelling, and reinforcing the message that cheaper formulas are no less nutritious.

Aside from Cold Storage and Giant, FairPrice and Sheng Siong said that they are also looking into expanding sourcing options to provide more affordable formula options.

FairPrice said that it is considering a number of options to better serve the community but could not yet share details. Sheng Siong said that it has no plans to develop a house brand milk formula.

Supermarkets here obtain formula milk only from manufacturer's authorised distributors and have not considered parallel importing due to the onerous import process, a report released by the CCS last week said.

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The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority has said that it will streamline its import requirements and procedures to facilitate entry of more suppliers and brands of formula milk, without compromising on food safety.

Expectant mother Lee Wei Xuan, 30, said that she would not mind trying house brand formula for her child if she needed to supplement breastfeeding.

Said the housewife: "It will depend on how much cheaper it is and whether baby can accept it."

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