SINGAPORE - As the prices of milk powder climbs, low-income families with young children will be given vouchers to ensure that their babies are adequately fed.
All five Community Development Councils and NTUC FairPrice Foundation have banded together to fund a $1.5 million milk scheme to support parents who may have difficulty purchasing milk powder for their toddlers, especially amid a sluggish economy.
Said Mr Teo Ser Luck, chairman of the Mayors' Committee and Mayor of North East district: "It comes very timely in the current economic climate... so that children are not deprived of milk which is highly nutritious and essential in their growing years."
Milk formula prices here have more than doubled over the last decade.
In 2004, the average price of formula was $22.66 for a 900g tin. It has climbed steadily to hit $50.01 in 2014, according to the Department of Statistics.
Over the last two years, supermarket chain FairPrice said milk powder prices have risen about 5 per cent. In contrast, prices for its house brand range of household essentials such as eggs, oil and rice have remained stable.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing said he did a survey of milk formula prices when he went grocery shopping at NTUC a year ago. He found that the cheapest tin costs about $30 while the higher-end ones can cost more than $100. Concerned at the wide range of prices, he contacted Mr Seah Kian Peng, chief executive of NTUC FairPrice and asked him how much people usually spend on milk powder.
"To my surprise, many families feel that they need to buy the $80 (tin) of milk powder. That is not a problem but I was worried. $80 is a lot of money compared to buying a $30 (tin). We need to help our families make good decisions," said Mr Chan.
So, he challenged the supermarket chain to source for a good quality but affordable brand of milk powder.
Mr Seah said NTUC FairPrice specially sourced and brought in Aptamil, a leading brand in Europe, to its stores last year. It costs about $30 a tin after a 20 per cent discount for union members.
About 7,500 low-income families will be given vouchers -$200 for children from six months to three years old, and $100 for kids aged four to six - under the new milk fund to buy milk powder at FairPrice outlets and Warehouse Club.