Shoppers load up in baby formula frenzy at Westfield Hurstville

Footage of shoppers stocking up on tins of baby formula, exceeding a supermarket’s purchase limit, is circulating on social media, drawing criticism from other customers.

A video published on Facebook this week showed several shoppers repeatedly return to Woolworths at Westfield, minutes after their first purchase, to buy more tins, and stack them up into trolleys parked outside the store.

One shopper said she watched two customers go back and forth into the store, eventually driving off with up to about 30 tins in the back of a ute.

Hurstville resident Caroline Bell says shoppers were “operating for over half an hour”, walking back past the same cashiers who had served them, to get more tins.

“The lines for service were the longest I have ever seen,” she said.

The supermarket chain’s limit is two tins per customer, per purchase.

Signage on shelves in the baby formula aisle also warns shoppers of the limit, written in English and in Chinese. 

The footage has angered several customers, who say they are missing out on getting formula for their babies.

Many shoppers reportedly buy Australian formula in bulk, and send to their relatives overseas, or to others at higher prices.

It follows health scares resulting in some baby deaths from Chinese-made products over the years, prompting shoppers to stock up on Australian goods.

Highly-sought after brands include A2 Platinum Premium for $35.60 – the most expensive one at both major supermarkets. It is currently temporarily unnavailable on its website. 

It is also currently unnavailable on Coles online. Bellamy’s Organic, which is priced at $28, is also in demand.

On its website, Woolworths states that in order to manage the supply of baby formula, order quantities are limited to two units per transaction.

Multiple transactions containing baby formula per single customer may be cancelled prior to dispatch, in line with terms and conditions.

Coles has the same two-tin policy, which also applies to its online store, as do many major pharmacies.

Woolworths said in a statement it was aware of stock availability issues on a small number of baby formula brands, which are currently unable to supply enough product to meet the demand in the market.

“Supply from trusted brands like S26 Alula and NAN has been stable and their stock availability remains good,” she said. “As a result, we're working with the suppliers of S26 Alula and NAN to significantly increase their stock levels across our store network. 

“This will help give our customers greater confidence they can get trusted baby formula brands when they need them at Woolworths.

“We continue to encourage any parents who find their chosen baby formula brand is unavailable on the shelf to speak with their store manager, so we can help get them stock as quickly as possible.”

Coles says it is also committed to ensuring customers have access to infant formula.

“We are working with our suppliers on solutions to improve availability for customers.”