Mums welcome second low-cost infant formula

Senior Minister of State Koh Poh Koon cautioned consumers against using price as a proxy for quality and urged them to look at the nutritional labels instead.
Senior Minister of State Koh Poh Koon cautioned consumers against using price as a proxy for quality and urged them to look at the nutritional labels instead.PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO

Sheng Siong sources its cheaper option from Singapore firm based in Melbourne

Supermarket chain Sheng Siong yesterday launched a new formula milk range from Australia amid calls for more affordable infant formula options here.

Priced at between $25.50 and $29.50 for a 900g tin, the launch of the Nature One Dairy range of formula milk products comes after another supermarket chain, FairPrice, introduced its own affordable infant formula option in June this year. Australia's Own, from FairPrice, is priced at between $27.50 and $35 for a 900g tin.

Nature One Dairy co-founder Masie Ng-Dimopoulos said the Singapore firm, which is based in Melbourne, is able to offer lower prices as her company manufactures and imports the formula directly, cutting out the middleman.

Housewife Candy Wong, 34, buys two 1.6kg tins a month, at about $82 each, for her three-year-old son.

She welcomed the cheaper option introduced by Sheng Siong, saying the Nature One Dairy range cost half of what other brands are charging.

"It's good to have cheaper options. With the money saved, I can spend more on other baby products, like diapers, or on insurance," she said.

The average price of a 900g tin of infant milk powder has more than doubled over the past decade to $56.06, prompting the Government to announce measures to address the issue earlier this year.

In May, a task force was set up to address rising prices of infant milk formula by, among other things, tightening regulations on labelling and advertising, facilitating imports of more formula milk options, raising public awareness and encouraging good practices in hospitals.

During yesterday's event, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development Koh Poh Koon, who chairs the task force, applauded retailers for heeding the Government's call to bring in affordable products for consumers.

But he cautioned consumers against using price as a proxy for quality and urged them to look at the nutritional labels instead. He also assured Singaporeans that all infant formula ranges on the shelves here are safe.

Dr Koh added that the Health Promotion Board is ramping up outreach efforts to promote breastfeeding and help parents understand nutritional information on infant formula tins so they can make informed choices.

On tightening regulations on labelling and advertising, Dr Koh said the task force is looking at possible changes to the Sale of Food Act, to take into account how to control advertising.

The Competition Commission of Singapore had in May released a report detailing the aggressive marketing efforts by some formula manufacturers, which included building "premium" brand images.

"We will be working with Sifecs (Sale of Infant Foods Ethics Committee) to update the code to reflect current market trends to regulate advertising and marketing of infant formula. This is ongoing work, and we will have updates closer to the end of the year," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 25, 2017, with the headline 'Mums welcome second low-cost infant formula'. Print Edition | Subscribe