In China, the Year of the Dragon saw a corresponding "Dragon
Baby Boom." Beijing's birth rate was the highest since 2007, Hong
Kong births rose 6.6% year-over-year, and Taiwan births hit a
ten-year record. However, feeding Chinese infants has recently been
a primarily foreign affair. According to a 2012 editorial in
, "only 100% foreign-owned formula brands are fully trusted" by the
This bias, said
, was "not a product of Chinese groveling before everything
foreign, as some critics claim," but rather, a "deep, knee-jerk
mistrust of homegrown dairy brands, which have yet to recover from
a string of past abuses, the most infamous being the melamine
scandal in 2008 that killed six infants and sickened tens of
thousands of others."
The imported formula market in China grew roughly ninefold between
2002 and 2012, and is expected to hit $13 billion by 2015, per
. But what will happen now that New Zealand dairy producer
) has recalled tons of formula from Chinese shelves amid fears of
"I think the Chinese are going to start questioning if New Zealand
dairy is reliable,"
, a Boynton Beach, Florida, money manager with a focus on
agricultural commodities, tells Minyanville. "New Zealand's
production has grown so much over the past five to eight years, and
they've really grown too fast. Their whole MO was 'maximize growth,
maximize growth, maximize growth,' but now they're feeling the pain
of not taking care of the infrastructure behind it."
Hackett explains that there was also a "big baby formula price
fixing scandal in China earlier this month," which involved
Fonterra and five other companies:
(OTCMKTS:BTSDF), and Friesland. The resulting "20-30% decline in
retail prices has hurt margins. Not only is there the problem of
less demand, but because prices have been forced down, it's a
double-whammy for companies."
Going forward, people "will buy their products," he continues, "but
there's going to be a hesitancy there. At the end of the day, the
only way to have 100% safe products is more natural baby feeding."
China, however, has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the
world: 28% (16% in urban areas), compared to a worldwide average of
about 40%. So, the Chinese government has embarked on a massive
campaign to convince new mothers to breastfeed.
In May, UNICEF and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and
launched the "10 Square Meters of Love"
campaign, which calls for breastfeeding rooms to be provided in
public buildings and offices throughout the country.
The city of Zhengzhou is rolling out "lactation rooms" on public
buses to provide semi-private
areas for nursing
And "breast masseurs" are even
beginning to appear
report from Zhou Fang
of the official Xinhua news agency claims that high-ranking
government officials appear to be taking their own advice a bit too
literally: They've begun engaging in breast milk orgies.
Want China Times
, "the milk-drinking parties were a novelty sparked by recent
revelations that wealthy businessmen in Shenzhen have been hiring
wet nurses for their own use because they believe in the health
benefits of human breast milk. Corrupt officials are often bribed
with high quality feasts, and the milk orgies are merely an
extension of this practice."