Coles restricts access to baby formula

Rachel Gray

Baby formula will join razors and cigarettes behind the counter at some NSW supermarkets to ensure Australian parents have enough to feed their infants.

The move follows reports some formula brands worth between $25 and $35 for a one-kilogram tin are being bought in bulk and on-sold in China for a profit of up to $100 per item.

Over recent years Aussie mums have turned to social media to express frustration over not being able to get the brands their babies like or need due to dietary issues.

There's been a spate of formula scares in China in recent years leading Chinese parents to source safer overseas products.

Coles says tins of baby formula will now be kept on shelves behind service desks or tagged with "electronic article surveillance" lids in some stores, a spokeswoman for the supermarket chain told AAP in a statement on Tuesday.

"Coles is committed to ensuring that our customers with a genuine need for infant formula have access to this product," she said.

Woolworths won't be following Coles stating: "Baby formula remains available on the shelf for customers in Woolworths stores."

"We're continuing to work with our suppliers to increase the supply of these essential family items," a spokesman told AAP.

Both Coles and Woolworths have a two-tin limit for customers.

Lactation experts have supported Coles' move.

"When breastfeeding isn't adequate then our mothers here need access to formula especially in emergencies," Sydney lactation consultant Anne Scollon told AAP.

The change is also supported by Lynne-McKensey Hall who specialises in helping mothers naturally breastfeed their babies. She says there are times when infants need to be bottle fed formula.

"I appreciate mothers do need to use formula at times and I am thrilled to see that supply is being controlled," Ms Hall told AAP.