The black market of baby formula gang busted

Officers raided properties in Richmond, Sunshine and Braybrook in Melbourne on Thursday, the discovery of more than $300,000 worth of allegedly stolen property including the baby formula and beauty products, as well as about $500,000 in cash.

Cans of baby milk powder were among the loot seized by the police. Photo: Getty Images

A 34-year-old Footscray man has been charged with handling stolen goods and six others, with an age range of 31 to 77, are being interviewed.

Detective Sergeant Mark Anderson told the Herald Sunagents also seized beauty products.

“We found papaya, perfumes and creams for the face and only the general items that you can buy in the supermarkets,” he said in the paper.

“The cash found is thought to be made as a profit from the sale of these stolen goods.”

Sergeant Anderson said the products were sold interstate and overseas, as well as in Victory.

The formula of the crisis

Baby formula has become a highly sought after product — some refer to as “white gold” — and the methods of some of the parents are using to get the hold of it are controversial.

Videos of full carts and empty shelves have flooded social networks in recent months.

In the past month, footage emerged of hundreds of daigou — or personal shoppers — in the back of a Chemist Warehouse store, select from hundreds of cans of milk formula.

The parents have been up in arms about the burgeoning grey market practice that, although legal, has been “daigou” professional buyers emptying of Coles and Woolworths stock.

Methods of storage “white gold”, have been a matter of controversy. Picture: Ellen Smith/News Corp Australia

The demand in Australia organic baby formula has soared in China, where confidence in the local dairy products has plummeted. The consequences are being felt in Australian homes and on the shelves of the supermarket.

Daigou have been known to sell cans of formula for babies of up to $200 each to desperate buyers, and pocket the substantial profits.

Taking into account the overwhelming demand for baby formula in Australia and in China, major retailers have begun to strictly enforce the limits of how many cans customers can buy.