Three months before giving birth last March, my cousin in China asked me for a special gift from the United States: baby formula.
Apprently, I wasn't alone. Chinese residents in California have been an important source of baby formula for their family and friends since a safety crisis broke out in mainland China four years ago. World Journal reports the demand is so high in San Gabriel Valley that this spring Target, Wal-Mart and online store DrugStore have set limits ranging from five to twelve cans of baby formula per purchase.
Some online stores in China such as a version of Amazon, Taobao, have been selling baby formula that they purchase from stores in the United States, complete with the pictures of the Wal-Mart where it's purchased.
Alhambra resident Kelly told World Journal that her cousins, former classmates and colleagues have been asking her to buy and mail baby formula to them since she moved to the United States. Rather than going to the Target in Alhambra or Rosemead, since baby formula in these locations is usually out of stock given the local Chinese community’s demand, she drives to other parts of Los Angeles. The limits don't work, she said, since store do not require residents to show their IDs or customers go to multiple cashiers.
Rosemead resident Miss Yang told World Journal that she once confirmed with the local Target store it had baby formula in stock in the morning, but when she went there in the afternoon the shelf had already been empty. The store staff explained that it is hard for them to control the inventory since some Chinese customers buy all the baby formula off the shelf in a single purchase.