Prices of milk powder have soared by 120 percent in the past 10 years, far faster than salary growth.
Speaking on this issue today in parliament, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Dr Koh Poh Koon said that cheaper milk powder is good enough, and kids above 1 year of age can be fed whole cow’s milk instead of infant milk formula as it would still constitute a healthy diet.
Dr Koh was answering a question raised by MacPherson SMC MP Tin Peiling, who raised the issue of milk powder in Singapore being very expensive, and being more expensive than other countries, leading parents to feel that they are being held “ransom”.
Milk powder here currently costs up to S$60 per tin.
Commenting on why prices are so high, Dr Koh said:
“All infant formula sold in Singapore regardless of their price meets Singapore’s food regulations and nutritional needs for infants to grow healthily. Parents should therefore be careful about relying on the claims made by infant formula companies or be misled into using price as a proxy for quality of the product,” he said, “As long as your child can get used to the milk or they are not suffering from any allergic reaction to that particular brand of milk, there’s no real reason to pay more for something that is just as good and much cheaper.”
Currently, Nestle, Abbott, Mead Johnson Nutrition, FrieslandCampina and Danone made up more than 99 per cent of the fortified milk formula market share in Singapore in 2016, with Abbott making up nearly half of the local market.
Dr Koh also said that to encourage more competition, the government will simplify and streamline import requirements as well as remove unnecessary barriers to entry in order to bring in more options for parents without compromising on food safety.
He said that the Competition Commission of Singapore has completed a market study of the milk formula industry in Singapore and will publish its report this week.