CWH ‘pick and pack’ formula store


empty shelves

A Current Affair has taken aim at Chemist Warehouse over its sale of baby formula to Chinese “daigou” buyers

According to ACA, Chemist Warehouse has created a “pick and pack” centre in its Chadstone Shopping Centre store in order to sell direct to the daigou market.

Daigou buyers purchase goods “on behalf of” end users in China, to whom they then send the goods.

Numerous mainstream media have reported that Australian customers are having difficulty purchasing baby formula as a result: for example, the Herald Sun reported last month that an “outraged mother” filmed over a dozen shoppers lining up for formula and then stripping the shelves bare.

Now, a 13-year old boy has captured what Nine calls “stunning” footage of a room at the back of Chemist Warehouse’s Chadstone Shopping Centre outlet, which contained hundreds of tins of formula.

“In Chemist Warehouse there’s a separate room where it’s full of cardboard boxes and there’s a massive shelf with baby formula, and there were Chinese in there buying, like, the formula, taking it in there, packaging it, signing forms and sending it to China,” the boy, Jonathon, told ACA.

Jonathon and his family have been challenging shoppers of Asian appearance around Melbourne and filming the confrontations over their shopping habits.

Viewers of A Current Affair had a few suggestions for parents who are having difficulty finding baby formula for their children.

“Instead of trying to buy it at the chain stores, build a relationship with your local independent pharmacy,” one viewer wrote on its Facebook page.

“Usually they will be more than happy to keep some for you. Might be a little more expensive but you will be able to get it and keep the profits local. My son was on a special formula and our pharmacy kept extra for us.

“That’s service you don’t get from a big chain store.”

The chief executive of AuMake, a new chain of daigou stores which has been floated on the ASX, said that outlets designed for daigous may have actually helped solve the problem of shortages by selling direct to daigous.

“So if companies and stores like AuMake can come in and assist with this channel to link up suppliers with the customers more directly, hopefully it’ll alleviate a lot of these concerns and all groups, all customers can get what they want and to co-exist,” said Keong Chan.

Last year Rania Awad, general manager e-commerce for Pharmacy 4 Less and Roy Young Chemist in Chatswood, Sydney, told the AJP that the pharmacies are constantly being scrutinised by shoppers hoping to source goods for use in China.

She said it’s a significant boost for Australian pharmacy businesses.

“The history for China with health products has been very bad – they have a huge problem with counterfeiting, there was the issue with the baby formula which caused deaths,” she said at the time.

“There’s a trust factor, and Australian, New Zealand and German products are seen as high-quality products and brands they trust.”

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