Continued from page 1

He set up a side business buying formula abroad, supplying his family and selling the surplus online. The sales restrictions in Germany are cutting into his business.

“Following the ban from Germany, my business suffered a sudden decline, and after our own consumption, I have almost nothing left,” said Ma, who works in construction. “I even have to calculate carefully to save enough for my child. I’m seriously considering closing my online business now.”

Even regular Chinese retailers are feeling the pinch.

The Shenzhen Jiulong Trading Company used to sell dozens of boxes of imported formula each day but is now worried about shrinking supplies.

“We sell Aptamil formula to Chinese parents who don’t have much trust in domestic brands,” said Huang Juan, a sales manager. “We used to import from New Zealand, but due to the sales ban from the New Zealand government, we have been suffering shortages.”

Between eager Chinese buyers and worried Germans hoarding supplies, demand for Aptamil in this country went up by more than four percent in the past year and would have probably gone up higher if outlets hadn’t restricted sales.

“We’ve already reacted and increased our production,” said Heike Mueller, a spokesman for Milupa, which is owned by Danone and produces Milumil.

Mueller told The Associated Press that the company has hired more workers at its plant in Fulda in southwestern Germany and expanded its 24-hour telephone hotline, which parents can call if they can’t find enough formula in their local stores.

In some cases, he said, the company has sent families extra boxes of formula to make sure the babies can get enough.

“We have also received requests from so-called companies in China asking if they could import our products directly, but we’ve rejected all those demands strictly,” Mueller said. “Our priority is to deliver enough products to mothers and fathers in Germany.”

Associated Press researcher Yu Bing contributed to this report from Beijing.