December 29, 2011
Unlabelled milk powder products spread in Vietnam
There is a mass of milk powder products currently proliferating in Vietnam without certificate of origin (C/O), local news reported Wednesday (Dec 28).
In Ho Chi Minh City, four different kinds of milk powder are on sale at surprisingly cheap prices between VND50,000 (US$2.38) and VND70,000 (US$3.2) a kilogramme.
Most traders usually store the powders in 10-kilogramme or 20-kilogramme plastic bags, or cartons, with a few labels proclaiming "Australian Fat Milk," or "Powder Milk Special Class," without any information on the products' origins or expiry dates.
Some traders said the products are imported from Australia, while the others who also sell the same products, said they import them from New Zealand and the Netherlands.
Meanwhile, in Hanoi-based Dong Xuan market, the north's biggest wholesale market, milk powders stored in plastic bags without labels are also available in large quantities.
"We only unveil the products origin certificates to customers buying large volume," a trader revealed.
Pham Ngoc Chau, deputy CEO of Hancofood, said many strange milk brand names such as Dinamilk, Growthmilk, and Goodmilk have been found being marketed in the provinces' rural areas at low prices of only VND150,000-VND170,000 (US$7.14-$8.09) per 900-gram can.
Chau said such prices are 30% lower than those for European-imported products.
"Under the pressure of competition, many local milk producers have imported Chinese milk powder to reduce selling prices," Chau said.
In consent with Chau, Nutifood's director of public relation Nguyen Huy Duc said "Only products bought from small Chinese producers can have such low prices."
During Jan-Nov, Vietnam had imported US$513,700 worth of milk products from China, increasing 29.8% from the same period last year, said the General Department of Customs.
However, officials of the department who asked to be anonymous said the figures could be much higher, since many products are unofficially imported into the country at low prices.
Currently, milk products imported from the EU have prices between US$3,600 and US$3,800 a tonne, while Chinese products fetch only US$2,300-$2,800 per tonne.
Recently, China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine announced that a batch of Mengniu milk was found to contain flavacin M1 levels of 1.2 microgrammes per kilogramme, 140 times higher than the country's permitted level.
Flavacin M1 is a substance linked to liver cancer, health experts said.
Last year, Chinese authorities also found that some local milk producers added industrial chemical Melamine into their products, causing deaths of six children and harming 300,000 other Chinese children.