Milk ‘money’: How much are we talking about?

I refer to the article “Private hospitals reviewing formula – milk arrangements ” (Straits Times, May 12).

It states:

“Mount Alvernia Hospital yesterday said that it does not accept sponsorships or payments from infant formula milk makers to offer their brands to new mothers.

It does, however, allow these companies to sponsor activities which educate patients on baby care and nutrition.

Formula milk companies invest significant marketing resources in hospitals to gain a “first-mover” advantage, the report said, noting that most parents do not switch formula brands later.

Meanwhile, Thomson Medical said suppliers pay the same amount each for their brands to be part of its monthly rotation, and most of the money is channelled to support activities that benefit patients.”

How much money in total?

I think an important piece of information may be missing, amidst all the furore in the media about this issue.

What is the total sum in dollar terms of all the milk powder companies’ activities in all the hospitals?

One source told me that an estimate may be close to $10 million a year.

If we include all the types of businesses that do this sort of thing – the total sum may be in the tens of millions of dollars.

Since at the end of the day, it may be the consumer who pays – is it any wonder that our milk powder prices may be one of the most expensive in the world, especially when compared to our neighbouring countries?

As to “Other private hospitals offering maternity services – Raffles and Parkway Pantai, which Mount Elizabeth, Mount Elizabeth Novena, Gleneagles and Parkway East hospitals are under – said that they will review their policies and practices, but did not say whether they accept sponsorships or fees for their milk rotation programmes” – does not saying “no” mean “yes”?

With regard to “Parkway Pantai said that milk companies sponsor and support nursing education, and it will review and align its practices, given the CCS recommendations.

Mount Alvernia also said it will study recommendations to review current sponsorship arrangements and make adjustments if necessary” – what exactly is expected to change from the current “can do” to the future “cannot do”?.

No BFHI-certified private hospitals

In respect of “Raffles, Thomson and Mount Alvernia said that they are working towards Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) certification, which bars sponsorship arrangements with formula companies.

All three public hospitals offering maternity services – KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, the National University Hospital and the Singapore General Hospital – are BFHI-certified” – according to the article “Private hospitals support breastfeeding over infant formula” (Today, May 12) – “In response to the competition watchdog’s findings, the Ministry of Health said in a statement on Wednesday that it would “strongly encourage” all hospitals providing maternity services to achieve BFHI certification, noting that hospitals are “important touch-points” for parents.

“None of the private hospitals offering maternity services has obtained such certification to date, and we hope that they will see that this is beneficial to their patients and will come on board to support the initiative.””

In this connection, the BFHI is a worldwide programme of the World Health Organization and UNICEF, launched in 1991, and more than 15,000 facilities in more than 152 countries have been inspected and accredited as “Baby-Friendly.

For example, in Taiwan – “In 2014 78.60% of babies were born in BFHI hospitals. Between 2001 and 2013, the increase in certified hospitals was from 38 to 176”.

“The BFHI aims to increase the numbers of babies who are exclusively breastfed worldwide, a goal which the WHO estimates could contribute to avoiding over a million child deaths each year, and potentially many premature maternal deaths as well”.

Who’s sleeping on the job?

In view of the above information – why is a world class healthcare nation like Singapore, arguably, so backward in this regard?

Transparency please?

As to “Formula milk companies Danone Dumex, Abbott, Nestle and FrieslandCampina said they are studying the CCS report and are cooperating with the authorities. Mead Johnson Nutrition did not respond to queries on the report by press time” – when can we expect to have more transparency and accountability from the hospitals, milk companies and the authorities?

 

Leong Sze Hian

 

 

 

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20 Responses to “Milk ‘money’: How much are we talking about?”

  • Profits Galore:

    NTUC is the BIGGEST retailer for milk powder. See the connection?

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  • rukidding:

    needless to say,….dig further and you will probably find at least a Pappy MP as an “appointed board member” ,inside one of these companies.

    Lets investigate and put a ruling to STOP any MPs to become “board members” of Private Companies as how could they concentrate and deliver their services to the people that trusted and voted for them ?

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  • BEYOND MILK POWDER:

    They are milking us dry. From baby milk powder, to coffee and tea and indeed to almost every food item. While they go after the milk powder makers, why is there no similar investigation on other food and beverage prices, which have risen significantly over the years? What has mainly caused the mammoth increase in prices? JUST across the causeway, the same thing costs one third our price.

    Is it something the regulator, if any, does not want us to know ?
    And CASE is silent.

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  • Lol:

    I am getting milk money from Australian govt fortnightly for raising my kids in Australia up to age 18.

    I got nothing from pap govt when I was in Singapore.

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  • Milo:

    May b its cheaper to

    Keep a cow in HDB.i think

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  • Rabble-rouser:

    This curious case of the overpriced Baby Milk Formula Powder in S’pore was 10 years in the making. Why is it only being brought up now at this time begs many questions & it really puts the PAP in a harsh light – high ministerial pay; but really long reactive response (10 years to wake up) – How can this be?
    The origins of the shortage of Baby Milk Formula can be traced to the 2008 China Milk Scandal. To understand this, I’ve included a link to a Forbes article outlining how the scandal broke out – read it:
    Link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/yanzhonghuang/2014/07/16/the-2008-milk-scandal-revisited/#41718a4105b8
    From the aftermath of this Milk Scandal post-2008, many would-be parents in China started to prefer foreign brands’ Baby Formula over local brands which many were tainted by the scandal. The shortage of key foreign baby formula in China lead to a thriving import trade where the Chinese sourced parallel imports from Milk producing countries like Australia & NZ.
    It got so bad that tins of baby milk formula powder disappeared from Supermarket & Pharmacy shelves as quickly as it was being filled by the stackers. Chinese buyers & arbitragers were buying them by the cartons to ship back to China for massive profits.
    Domestic Aussie & NZ consumers ie. parents began to raise a huge cry to the authorities & to supermarkets/pharmacy. This led to a policy of buying limits & restricted supply of baby formula milk tins. But the baby formula powder tin prices remained as it were despite the high demand because profiteering would ensure that the govt come down hard on profiteers. Today, buying limits are still in place restricting purchases to 4 tins maximum for either Supermarkets or Pharmacies.
    In contrast, Baby Formula Milk distributors ‘made hay while the sun shined’ because of the global demand (from Chinese parents) & tight supply situation. They profiteered & jacked up the price of a tin of Baby Formula Milk to a ridiculous price. How ridiculous did you say? Well, an average of S$55 to S$60 per tin vs AU$20 & NZ$25 per tin – a 3x price differential! And And what was the PAP response? – all you need is to watch S’pore Parliamentary proceeding – many MP were either absent (..AWOL?) or Zzzzzz away in the glaze of the media.
    It took the attention of a PAP female MP simply because she had a baby! And that had taken 10 long years before a sound was uttered due to the personal interest of a PAP MP.
    Uncle Leong had rightly said,
    “WHO’S SLEEPING ON THE JOB?
    In view of the above information – why is a world class healthcare nation like Singapore, arguably, so backward in this regard?”

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  • Easy Money from Longan:

    I am a well-fed Cronie.
    Money comes easy.
    I earn 660k from masturbating longan.
    770k for oraling longan.
    122k for licking Logan balls

    So, to me, I totally not aware that milk prices in sg are extremely much more than the same brand elsewhere in other countries.

    To me , sg is perfect. I not sure why the losers complaining.

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  • Japanese translator:

    Aiya, just say Boh Bian can already.
    Sinkies culture.
    Absolutely accept everything in last 50 years.
    No need election also.
    Just accept.

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  • oxygen:

    @ Beyond Milk Powder

    SPOT ON! Workers Party asked the Government in Parliament to allow the setting up of a wet market in Upper Serangoon area to lower the costs-of-living for its constituents. Minister Masagoes refused them – WITHOUT TALKING ABOUT THE TRUTH THAT FOOD RETAILING IN SINKIELAND a highly profitable oligopolistic trade sector dominated by a few supermarket chain!

    I have done some research and found that supermarket food retailers are making at least 7.5% on the sales NET OF TAXATION. This is almost a thief’s harvest of riches when similar supermarket businesses in Australia, Hong Kong, UK, EU, USA & Canada can only earned on the same after tax basis of 0.3% to 3.5% on sales – BUT MOSTLY under 2%.

    That means the margin on supermarket food retailing in Sinkieland is – on an average – of 4X to 5X the margin achievable in most comparable first world economies.

    AND PAPpys having shut down wet markets are reluctant to allow its comeback to provide for stiffer competition.

    WHOSE FINANCIAL INTERESTS IS PAPpy protecting?

    BEYOND MILK POWDER: They are milking us dry. From baby milk powder, to coffee and tea and indeed to almost every food item. While they go after the milk powder makers, why is there no similar investigation on other food and beverage prices, which have risen significantly over the years? What has mainly caused the mammoth increase in prices? JUST across the causeway, the same thing costs one third our price.
    Is it something the regulator, if any, does not want us to know ?
    And CASE is silent.

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  • oxygen:

    @ Beyond Milk Powder

    We have female MPs in Parliament who does their family food shopping. Likewise, we have lots of doctors MPs sitting in Parliament. Both know that pricing of milk powder and food generally in Sinkieland is excessively demanding and adding to pressures on poor peasants.

    HOW COME ALL THESE MPs all DIAM DIAM DIAM when Masagoes declined WP’s request to allow for the setting up of wet markets in opposition wards?

    PAPpys of course pretends to look the other way and NOT allow the resurgence of wet markets in their constituencies. But why RESTRICT Workers Party from setting up wet markets in their opposition electoral wards by popular ground demands?

    HOW MANY PAPpy MPs knows or ever discover -accidentally or stupidly or both – that the food retailing margin in Sinkieland is outrageously enriching for a trade sector in which it is only in oligopolistic competition (same as other first world countries). Why is the mark-up so uncharacteristically high in Sinkieland and the HOUSE OF THE MOST EXPENSIVE DECORATION OF OVERPAID INCOMPETENT either ignorant of this fact and/or prefers to be disingenuous? or BOTH?

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  • LIONS:

    There is much to do by CASE on this matter especially when CASE BOSS N NTUC FAIRPRICE BOSS are PAP people?

    This to me is a PAP inflicted issue that comes from GREED.
    NTUC is thr major supermart here n it is price leader n can use its position to help REGULARISE N REGULATE prices?
    Its not a matter of whether there is profit;its more a matter how FAT they want tbeir margin$???

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  • Mad House:

    Milk powder in down under for popular brands like Nan and Similac are selling less than Aud20, so who is profiteering?

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  • justacitizen:

    PAP mantra is Jack Neo’s movie, “Money No Enough”.

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  • LIONS:

    Btw,as an aidee,tbere is a beautiful song by Hermans Hermit by tbe title of “NO MILK TODAY”…that may interest some of you young mothers?

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  • oxygen:

    @ LIONS

    PAPpys in the HOUSE OF MOST EXPENSIVE DECORATIONS cannot explain this WINDY HAPPY CONTRADICTIONS.

    Sinkieland is a first world economy paying third world wages – Minister Lim Hn Kiang said so in the media. But our supermarket retailing margin is 4X to 5X the net after tax margin in first world economies.

    LET NOBODY TELLS ME that the MPs in the HOUSE OF MOST EXPENSIVE DECORATION don’t know that these facts which is VERY ODD AS IT IS RIDICULOUS while they all talked CAWKED in stiff opposition to the appeal for return to wet market food retailing to add to competition and reduce the peasants’s relentless costs of living escalations.

    They also DIAM DIAM DIAM when they hike the water bill by 30% in 12 months on the FALSE PRETEXT of expensive underground tunneling when in reality THEY DON’T HAVE A CLUE WHAT IS THE HARDNESS/SOFTNESS of the rock geology and where future tunneling will take place.

    It seems that PAPpys thrives best by feeding peasants with FAKE NEWS in the media and disingenuous politics of ignoring critical facts and realities whenever cost of living issues are brought to their attention BOTH inside and outside the HOUSE OF MOST EXPENSIVE DECORATIONS.

    LIONS: There is much to do by CASE on this matter especially when CASE BOSS N NTUC FAIRPRICE BOSS are PAP people?
    This to me is a PAP inflicted issue that comes from GREED.
    NTUC is thr major supermart here n it is price leader n can use its position to help REGULARISE N REGULATE prices?
    Its not a matter of whether there is profit;its more a matter how FAT they want tbeir margin$???

    GD Star Rating
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  • PAP Is Root Of All Evils:

    LIONS:
    There is much to do by CASE on this matter especially when CASE BOSS N NTUC FAIRPRICE BOSS are PAP people?

    This to me is a PAP inflicted issue that comes from GREED.
    NTUC is thr major supermart here n it is price leader n can use its position to help REGULARISE N REGULATE prices?
    Its not a matter of whether there is profit;its more a matter how FAT they want tbeir margin$???

    CASE is headed by a greedy PAP clown who has 150 directorships in other companies. You think such Chobolan will do anything for the dafts other than milking them dry????

    GD Star Rating
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  • Khaw dung:

    @LIONS:
    May 14, 2017 at 11:28 pm (Quote)
    Btw,as an aidee,tbere is a beautiful song by Hermans Hermit by tbe title of “NO MILK TODAY”…that may interest some of you young mothers?

    yep,nice gig by Herman’s Hermits,
    …the end of my hopes,the end of my dreams…

    GD Star Rating
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  • Who monitors the hardships:

    Track the profit trail.
    Who is making out of this situation?
    There lies the answer.
    Many are crossing the causeway daily to buy all their needs.
    This infant milk issue is only one issue.
    What a shame!

    GD Star Rating
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  • Leave SG!:

    Rabble-rouser:
    This curious case of the overpriced Baby Milk Formula Powder in S’pore was 10 years in the making. Why is it only being brought up now at this time begs many questions & it really puts the PAP in a harsh light – high ministerial pay; but really long reactive response (10 years to wake up) – How can this be?
    The origins of the shortage of Baby Milk Formula can be traced to the 2008 China Milk Scandal. To understand this, I’ve included a link to a Forbes article outlining how the scandal broke out – read it:
    Link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/yanzhonghuang/2014/07/16/the-2008-milk-scandal-revisited/#41718a4105b8
    From the aftermath of this Milk Scandal post-2008, many would-be parents in China started to prefer foreign brands’ Baby Formula over local brands which many were tainted by the scandal. The shortage of key foreign baby formula in China lead to a thriving import trade where the Chinese sourced parallel imports from Milk producing countries like Australia & NZ.
    It got so bad that tins of baby milk formula powder disappeared from Supermarket & Pharmacy shelves as quickly as it was being filled by the stackers. Chinese buyers & arbitragers were buying them by the cartons to ship back to China for massive profits.
    Domestic Aussie & NZ consumers ie. parents began to raise a huge cry to the authorities & to supermarkets/pharmacy. This led to a policy of buying limits & restricted supply of baby formula milk tins. But the baby formula powder tin prices remained as it were despite the high demand because profiteering would ensure that the govt come down hard on profiteers. Today, buying limits are still in place restricting purchases to 4 tins maximum for either Supermarkets or Pharmacies.
    In contrast, Baby Formula Milk distributors ‘made hay while the sun shined’ because of the global demand (from Chinese parents) & tight supply situation. They profiteered & jacked up the price of a tin of Baby Formula Milk to a ridiculous price. How ridiculous did you say? Well, an average of S$55 to S$60 per tin vs AU$20 & NZ$25 per tin – a 3x price differential! And And what was the PAP response? – all you need is to watch S’pore Parliamentary proceeding – many MP were either absent (..AWOL?) or Zzzzzz away in the glaze of the media.
    It took the attention of a PAP female MP simply because she had a baby! And that had taken 10 long years before a sound was uttered due to the personal interest of a PAP MP.
    Uncle Leong had rightly said,
    “WHO’S SLEEPING ON THE…

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • High price here:

    Actually many things are high price here…

    Something is very wrong….very little price control..

    Prices here are just too high for many Singaporean…
    Their pay cannot catch up with inflation resulting in deteriorating standard of living for many…

    The rich/poor divide will only get worse…

    GD Star Rating
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