The Baby milk importers Group clarifies the situation of baby milk in the Lebanese market
The Baby milk importers Group held its monthly meeting in Beirut and issued the following statement to clarify the baby milk situation in the Lebanese market.
“There are the two categories in the baby milk sector: the first is the 0-1 year infant milk, controlled, and priced by the Ministry of Public Health, the second is the 1+ year baby milk, controlled and supervised by the Ministry of Economy and Trade.
About the unavailability of milk products in pharmacies, it is important to clarify that companies need to obtain the approval on the subsidy from Banque du Liban before importing baby milk products. If Banque du Liban delays the subsidy, the companies cannot secure products in the market.
In addition, some families are stocking products in their homes fearing that their preferred brands will disappear from the market, or that prices will suddenly increase drastically. While this is understandable people should not panic. Infant milk will always be available in the market as long as Banque du Liban is subsidizing and paying the products and if they stop, the milk will still be imported unsubsidized. This is a national health priority and the priority of the importing companies. Stocking huge quantities of products will only harm other families because they will not find their brands on the shelves.
Moreover, the black market is expanding, and some individuals are buying the products and selling them through illegal channels which led to an increased pressure on companies at the level of supply.
Finally, several companies importing infant milk products stopped their operations in 2019 due to the crisis leading to a shortage of products; this leads to adding the pressure on the companies that are still importing products.
Regarding the prices that have recently increased, it is important to mention that the first category, the infant milk, is still subsidized by Banque du Liban. The prices of the products won’t increase as long as Banque du Liban is subsidizing them at 1,515 LBP. Since May 2021, the process has witnessed extreme delays and difficulties in subsidizing the baby milk category (1+ year). Therefore, concerned parties have decided to lift the subsidy on this category, and it is consequently now being sold at the dollar market rate, leading to a sudden increase in price.
In conclusion, the Baby milk importers are not responsible for the actual situation and are only abiding to the decision of the government. They are doing their best to manage stocks in parallel to BDL delays. Baby milk importers are reputable and respectable companies that have been operating in the Lebanese market for decades. Importing companies cannot manipulate the prices or retain stocks in their warehouses since they are regulated by the Ministry of Health.
The mission of the Group is to protect the health of Lebanese babies and to secure the merchandise at the best price from abroad and distribute it to the Lebanese market in a quick and efficient manner.