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Expert sees milk powder shortage in the Netherlands as market problem


18:13, May 15, 2013

THE HAGUE, May 15 (Xinhua) -- A shortage of Dutch baby milk powder in supermarkets and drug stores is not a consequence of capacity problems of Dutch milk producers, but part of a smart marketing campaign, retail and marketing expert Paul Moers told Xinhua recently.

Moers pointed out that the reason why Chinese consumers buy Dutch milk powder is mainly because cans sold in the Netherlands are almost three times cheaper and, more importantly, of indisputable reputation.

According to a research conducted by Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, Nutricia has been exporting full containers of instant milk formula to China, generating sales numbers much higher than the product would have yielded in the Netherlands. Dutch consumers and supermarkets meanwhile struggle with a shortage of Nutrilon milk powder.

Official distribution channels such as the Chinese webshop Tmall show that Nutricia is exporting milk powder to China. Chinese consumers can buy a Nutrilon can for 40 U.S. dollars per kilo, while the price in the Netherlands is 17 dollars per kilo.

A quick search for milk powder named Niulan, the popular Chinese name for Nutrilon, on Chinese webstores such as shows more than 60,000 results. Many of the displayed products are not sold via official channels, showing that illegal networks of traders of Nutrilon products are extremely active.

"But Nutricia does not benefit from this so-called parallel trade. They are trying very hard to sell their expensive products via their official distribution channels in China," Moers said.

He added, "But even though the products are almost exactly identical, many Chinese consumers distrust almost all milk powder cans without Dutch descriptions on the packages."

The Dutch Federation for the Food Industry called Moers' statements "complete rubbish."

"There is a serious network of illegal traders trying to get as much as they can, causing a serious scarcity for Dutch consumers," organization director Philip den Ouden told Xinhua.

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