Cold Storage considering house-brand infant formula

A woman buying milk powder at an Fairprice Xtra outlet.
A woman buying milk powder at an Fairprice Xtra outlet.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

It is exploring affordable product amid rising prices, but will first focus on alternative sourcing

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 taken the step of approaching its trade partners for recommendations on sources of high quality and sustainable milk supply, its chief executive David Goh told The Straits Times yesterday.

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

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 and encourage price competition between brands.

The increasing prices of formula milk owned 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, as well as reinforcing the message that cheaper formulas are no less nutritious.

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

The two supermarket chains, in addition to Cold Storage and Giant which are under the Dairy Farm Group, said that they are also looking into expanding sourcing possibilities to provide more affordable formula options.

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

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

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

The housewife said: "It will depend on how much cheaper it is and whether my baby can accept it."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 20, 2017, with the headline 'Cold Storage considering house-brand infant formula'. Print Edition | Subscribe