Daigou association plans to address ethics

empty shelves

They’ve come under fire for stripping Chemist Warehouse shelves of baby formula… but the Daigou is here to stay

The Daigou channel – people and businesses who purchase goods “on behalf of” end users in China, to whom they send the goods – has been formalised with the launch of the Australia China Daigou Association this week.

The channel is estimated to be worth around $850 million.

Association president Dr Mathew McDougall, an expert on doing business with China, told Radio National that stakeholders are hoping to raise standards in the industry.

He said concerns to date included that Daigou made false or exaggerated claims about brands to Chinese customers, and that stakeholders did not want Daigou making claims on behalf of brands which those brands would not make themselves.

“We really wanted to look at ethical trading practices, we didn’t want to have the community’s perception of this trading practice to be tarnished,” he said.

“Having Chinese teams go into Coles and Woollies and taking infant formula isn’t something we condone.”

Last year several mainstream media including A Current Affair and the Herald Sun reported that Daigou were purchasing infant formula in bulk for overseas customers and leaving little for Australian end users.

ACA aired a report featuring a family who have been challenging shoppers of Asian appearance in Melbourne, and filming the resulting confrontations. The family had obtained footage of a Chemist Warehouse “pick and pack” centre in its Chadstone Shopping Centre store.

“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,” a 13-year-old boy who obtained the footage told the program.

And last week Nine News reported on measures pharmacies and other retailers were taking to limit the number of tins of formula each shopper could buy.

The Daigou Association launch was held this week at Customs House in Sydney, by Federal Minister for Small and Family Business Craig Laundy, and shadow minister for Trade and Investment Jason Clare.

“Ask most Australians what a Daigou is and they probably wouldn’t know,” Mr Clare said at the launch.

“It’s a new industry – hiding in plain sight.

“As you know there have been cases where Daigous have scooped everything off the shelves in places like Woolies or Coles and Australian consumers haven’t been able to get the products they want.

“We can’t let that happen.  And hopefully changes in the way the daigou network operates will make sure that’s the case.”

Dr McDougall told Radio National that selling to China can be difficult for Australian businesses, and he hopes the consolidation of the Daigou channel will make it easier for them to do so.

“If we could create a formalised channel actually it would be a great path to China for a lot of companies,” he said.

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