Chinese TV drama creates black market for Weet-Bix cereal

Krystal Johnson

A popular Chinese television drama has featured a box of Weet-Bix in one of its episodes, causing demand for the Australian breakfast cereal to skyrocket and prices to reach up to $50 per box overseas.

The TV show, called 'Ode to Joy', is believed to be the main driver of the Weet-Bix rush, featuring the product in episode 21 of the series.

This screenshot from the Chinese TV drama shows a woman pulling out some of the Aussie cereal. Photo: YouTube/OdetoJoy
The two characters can be seen eating the cheap grocery item, which is being sold overseas for $50. Photo: YouTube/OdetoJoy

The show is a drama about five independent women who live and work in Apartment Ode to Joy.

In the scene, two characters make bowls of Weet-Bix for breakfast, displaying a large 1.4kg branded box clearly on the table.

The overseas rush has emptied the shelves of some Australian supermarkets, with one shopper in Melbourne seen purchased a trolley jam-packed full of close to 40 Weet-Bix boxes.

Normally selling for around $5 per box, the cereal is being sold overseas in online stores for 10 times the price.

China's version of Ebay, known as Yoycart, has the item listed as “Aussie Weet-Bix cereals".

One seller described the wheat biscuits as an "ode to joy with breakfast”.

This man is seen in Melbourne stocking up on the cheap grocery item. Photo: Twitter/RossandJohn
The box of Weet-Bix is being sold on Yoycart for about $50 in Australian dollars. Photo: Yoycart

On the website, the 1.4kg packs are being sold for a whopping $US39, about AUD$50, and the 1kg packs were being trumpeted for AUD$37.

Sanitarium General Manager Todd Saunders said China is the company's largest export market and assured Australians stock is not running low.

"We want to assure our customers that despite increased demand for Weet-Bix, Sanitarium has capacity to continue to supply our retail partners," Mr Saunders told Yahoo7.

The golden-wheat cereal is being sold online in China for almost $50 for a 1.4kg box. Photo: Supplied

"We are excited to see more Chinese people choosing Australia’s most loved and trusted cereal for their daily breakfast."

A Coles spokesperson told Yahoo7 the chain has noticed a spike in sales but advise that there is plenty of wheat to go around.

“We’ve seen an increase in sales of Weet-Bix in a number of stores over recent weeks, however our supplier Sanitarium has assured us they have plenty of Weet-Bix for our customers’ breakfast,” the spokesman said.

Woolworths on the other hand have told Yahoo7 there has not been an increase in Weet-Bix sales and business is as per normal.

Weet-Bix is now the must-have product for the booming Chinese market. Photo: Supplied

The Chinese hunger for Weet-Bix comes eight years after demand soared for Australian baby formula, dimishing stockpiles and beginning a nationwide shortage.

In 2008, there was an organic baby formula crisis, which resulted in the shortage and forced the government to stop thousands of tins from being sent to China in blackmarket trade.

Weet-Bix was invented in 1926, and picked up by Sanitarium two years later. It is believed the product has been sold in China since 2008.

News break – June 24