Customers Hoarding Hard-to-find Baby Formula Criticized

January 21, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. viral / ˈvaɪ rəl / (adj.) – describing an online post that spreads quickly on the Internet
Example: The video became viral the day after being posted.

2. amid / əˈmɪd / (preposition) – in the middle of something
Example: People remained calm amid the disaster.

3. hoard / hoʊrd / (v.) – to gather something in large amounts
Example: He hoarded dozens of magazines in the bookstore, leaving some shelves empty.

4. spree / spri / (n.) – a short period of time during which a person does something in an uncontrolled and exaggerated manner
Example: We went on a shopping spree to help her relieve stress.

5. enormous / ɪˈnɔr məs / (adj.) – very large in size
Example: There are ten rooms in their enormous house.


Read the text below.
Many were disappointed and angered as photos of bulk buyers of hard-to-find Australian baby formula went viral.

Amid a shortage of infant formula in Australia, a group of shoppers at Woolworths still hoarded two shopping carts filled with cans of formula. Out of shock and anger, Melbourne mother Jessica Hay took photos of the group while they were doing their shopping spree and then shared the images on social media.

Supplies of preferred brands in Australia, such as A2, Bellamy’s, and Karicare, decreased rapidly when the companies started exporting them to the Chinese market. Australian-made baby formula became popular in China because of numerous infant deaths in the country due to a fake milk formula in 2004 and the melamine contamination in 2008.

Australian baby formula manufacturers are earning huge profits due to the enormous demand in China. According to reports, some Australians are even selling baby formula to Chinese customers at very high prices. In turn, Australian babies suffer because of the low supply of baby formula in the country.

To give equal opportunity to all customers, many stores and supermarkets set limits on how many cans a shopper can buy per transaction. The limit varies from store to store. A Woolworths spokesperson said that they have an eight-can limit for all stores. After the controversial images spread online, the store faced consumer pressure to strictly implement the limit in all of their branches.

The federal government of Australia has already started negotiating with big Australian retailers such as Coles and Woolworths for short-term solutions to the baby formula crisis.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         What is your reaction to people hoarding rare baby formula for their own profit?
·         If you were part of the Australian government, how would you resolve this issue? Explain your answer.

Discussion B

·         Do you think Chinese baby formula brands can regain the trust of the public again? Why or why not?
·         What should Chinese baby formula brands do to encourage more people to buy their products?

January 21, 2016