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To think that Infant Formula should be a luxury?

(97 Posts)
FridayThirteenth Wed 18-Jul-18 09:23:14

Actually I don't, but this is the warning that dairy producer Arla has given in a speech to LSE about the possible consequences of customs barriers and restriction of labour after Brexit (even in a soft brexit scenario):

*“Our dependence on imported dairy products means that disruption to the supply chain will have a big impact.

“Most likely we would see shortages of products and a sharp rise in prices, turning every day staples, like butter, yoghurts, cheese and infant formula, into occasional luxuries. Speciality cheeses, where there are currently limited options for production, may become very scarce.

“It is important to be clear about this: Brexit might bring opportunities to expand the UK industry in the long term, but in the short and medium term we cannot just switch milk production on and off.

“Increasing the UK’s milk pool and building the infrastructure for us to be self-sufficient in dairy will take years.”*

So what are the consequences of this given the low breastfeeding rates in the UK generally? Would there be a higher uptake of breastfeeding? I know personally, despite being a committed breastfeeder, my DD probably wouldn't be alive without formula due to latch refusal and an inability to express enough. So higher breastfeeding rates combined with infant mortality?

Will we just have to suck up even more expensive formula?

Or perhaps we could go down my grandmothers route in the 60s when formula was prohibitively expensive and feed babies condensed milk (assuming that will be more available due to shelf life).

Genuinely interested in views here as haven't heard of this as a potential consequence. Given the recent votes in the commons making the possibility of a 'no deal' much more likely, how worried should we be?

meditrina Wed 18-Jul-18 09:35:48

This is a potential consequence of disruptiin to the dairy supply chain

It's being pinned on Brexit right now, but things like Foot and Mouth are a greater risk.

Yes, if there is disruption to the supply of a staple food, there will be price increases as it has to be sent from further away and sellers can increase prices. That is the consequence of being a nation unable to produce enough to feed itself.

But we are also a nation where supermarkets have been able to screw over dairy farmers and force them to sell milk at below production costs, leading to contraction of supply. We should perhaps get used to the idea that artificially low prices (ie prices below production costs) may well be a thing of the past.

BeeMyBaby Wed 18-Jul-18 09:36:11

More easily accessible bfing support from the NHS. I know the support is out there but having to get your DH drive you across town in tears in week 2 of bfing as your dc is still losing weight and you have been forced to put them on formula by the midwives may well break a lot of women and they may just give up. If my family weren't so incredibly pro breastfeeding (almost forcibly so) and with the level of support available from the NHS I would have given up. Also if it were to be a luxury then women would take longer to return to work before a year as they wouldn't be able to swap to mix fees at that point.

ThePants999 Wed 18-Jul-18 09:42:09

This is ridiculous scaremongering. We're not suddenly going to become unable to buy European dairy products, there's just going to be some added costs. 20% or whatever on the price of cheese or butter will be painful, but will hardly turn it into an "occasional luxury".

FridayThirteenth Wed 18-Jul-18 09:54:52

The BF support is pretty bad (although tbf I had amazing support but not much you can do when a baby flat out refuses). She did eventually latch at 6 weeks but that's a long time without formula to supplement.

The other issue with NHS support is the fact that recruitment for nurses/midwives is at such a low, and many are leaving the profession. It will be hard to offer better support without sorting this out first

I'm not worried about milk and cheese to be honest, if they are more expensive then we can get calcium from other sources and it's not an essential part of our diet.

But formula is another issue. It's already expensive. Those at the lower end of the income scale will be hard pressed to afford a massive increase in prices along with the general increase in food prices that is expected

CaptainBrickbeard Wed 18-Jul-18 10:41:11

There will be price rises on food and a lot of families are ‘just about managing’ as it is aka barely scraping by. An increase in formula prices endangers babies and will put low-income families into ever more desperate circumstances. I don’t know how anyone can dismiss this as scaremongering. It is scary and we need reassurance that this can be averted. A shortage of formula is a very real and dangerous crisis. And I say this as someone who breastfed my children and am very supportive of increasing breastfeeding rates. A hike in formula prices is not the way to help breastfeeding. Children and families will suffer unimaginably from this.

LadyOdd Wed 18-Jul-18 10:47:25

My DD didn’t latch well for 8 weeks so was partly FF it was already expensive for me I had to borrow money from my mum at one point as we were also in the process of moving abroad.

FridayThirteenth Wed 18-Jul-18 11:01:14

I'm surprised that so many people just don't seem worried about this.

Even the government are saying it's a real possibility:

Laura Hughes @ laura_k_hughes
Michael Gove says Defra "are stepping up preparations for the possibility (while no one wants it) that we would leave in March 2019 and then have to trade on WTO terms...” Tells MPs “there has been a step change” as a result of Chequers agreement and white paper. #Brexit

At the very least people need to be aware and to start planning?

Surely something that can have such a detrimental effect on babies should be more widely discussed?

I just think it's madness to think it could never happen when all the current events are indicating the opposite

derxa Wed 18-Jul-18 11:11:04

But we are also a nation where supermarkets have been able to screw over dairy farmers and force them to sell milk at below production costs, leading to contraction of supply. We should perhaps get used to the idea that artificially low prices (ie prices below production costs) may well be a thing of the past. Because of the above, the number of dairy herds in Britain has plummeted

FridayThirteenth Wed 18-Jul-18 11:20:20

Exactly derxa, and as Arla say in the article, maybe long term this will be the catalyst needed to rejuvenate our dairy industry and become self sufficient.

But that will take time and in the meantime there will be consequences that we need to work out how to mitigate

The more likely this becomes the more widely we should discuss this, not least because if the price rises are sudden there will be less opportunity for those least able to absorb huge price increases to cope.

CaptainBrickbeard Wed 18-Jul-18 13:22:07

I have read a lot of passionate discussions about breast and formula feeding on MN over the years. Now there is a tangible threat to formula feeding; a reclassification of it an ‘occasional luxury’, the threat of it becoming suddenly and abruptly vastly more expensive and I short supply and there is a resounding silence? What do people think is going to happen in the event of no deal? With food, holidays, industry, jobs, medicine, travel? Are people still really thinking that everything will magically just carry on as it was except with special sovereignty? Whilst Britain becomes a country where infant formula is a luxury item??

Kokeshi123 Wed 18-Jul-18 13:33:39

Place marking as this is an interesting issue. Formula is one of those products with a very inelastic supply, because it has so many ingredients and every single one requires so much checking and safeguarding. It's why you get empty shelves in places like HK and Australia.

FridayThirteenth Wed 18-Jul-18 13:34:09

I know Captain. I'm baffled.

Maybe it's the classic 'if I ignore it it won't happen' strategy.

FridayThirteenth Wed 18-Jul-18 13:34:55

Interesting Kokeshi.

What do those countries do when there is a lack of supply? Can babies who need to be FF get it through other means?

KokoandAllBall Wed 18-Jul-18 18:25:23

I've noticed butter is more expensive already. I never delete my emails so I looked up the price I paid for our usual butter two years ago and it was half the price it is now.

CaptainBrickbeard Wed 18-Jul-18 18:28:19

I know that there has been a lot about paying fair prices for dairy over the past couple of years. I’m happy to support farmers. But formula as a luxury it

CaptainBrickbeard Wed 18-Jul-18 18:29:54

Whoops! Formula as a luxury item is a scary prospect. A no-deal Brexit is not something we can willingly walk (or blunder!) into without terrifying consequences. And this will hit the most vulnerable - women and children on low incomes.

sunlighthouse Wed 18-Jul-18 18:40:37

I thought there were already limits of how much formula you can buy in one go? Or is that just at my local supermarket?

I think the reason people aren't taking it seriously is because no matter which side is talking about it, Brexit has been about scaremongering right from day one. If it's not remainers telling us the country will be on its knees without the EU, it's brexiteers telling us 35 million immigrants will arrive on our shores every week and take all our jobs and ruin our NHS. This is one quote from one man, there'll be other "experts" out there who will argue the opposite. Nobody really knows what will happen.

For what it's worth, I think many things will be pretty much the same. I seriously doubt brexit will directly lead to higher breastfeeding rates. I do think we will have to get used to paying higher prices for many things. And I'm uncertain whether I actually think that's such a bad thing. But what do I know.

Grandmaswagsbag Wed 18-Jul-18 18:47:10

It’s very worrying given the outrageous cost of formula already. I don’t think this is scaremongering. For families barely getting by I worry this could lead to formula being watered down etc. I did laugh at the idea of describing it as a luxury item!

Bambamber Wed 18-Jul-18 18:51:11

I think more people would chose to breastfeed and there would be a higher reliance on donated milk when breastfeeding isn't possible or needs to be supplemented

TammySwansonTwo Wed 18-Jul-18 18:54:05

This is ridiculous scaremongering. We're not suddenly going to become unable to buy European dairy products, there's just going to be some added costs. 20% or whatever on the price of cheese or butter will be painful, but will hardly turn it into an "occasional luxury".

Firstly, this is the most naive thing I’ve read in some time. Do you understand what “no deal” actually means? It’s not about added costs in the first instance, it’s about there being no arrangements in place for the vast amount of importing and exporting that keeps the U.K. functioning. Do people really not understand this?

This is not scaremongering. There are experts from various industries coming forward to explain what the issues will be but people are too damn stupid to listen. We were warned of this. It was not unforeseeable.

TammySwansonTwo Wed 18-Jul-18 18:56:48

Butter alone has already increased almost 50% in the last five years. 20% inflation on people’s food bills and other areas will hit some people extremely hard, I don’t think people grasp this. It’s infuriating.

My son needed formula for medical reasons in addition to breastmilk - I couldn’t breastfeed so expressed every two hours for 7 very long months and I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. Women should have the right to choose and formula should not be unaffordable.

Thesearmsofmine Wed 18-Jul-18 19:07:07

This worries me. I don’t think it will increase the rates of breastfeeding at all, people will find other ways to make the formula last longer(watered down), wean earlier or try dangerous alternatives.

pastabest Wed 18-Jul-18 19:30:29

Aldi are currently selling their own brand formula for around £7 a tub. It's no different to any of the big name formulas but is significantly cheaper. Formula is a rip off for what it actually is.

Infant milk companies are making a fortune and will continue to do so even if they put the price up because of 'brexit'. I think it's a bit disingenuous of Arla to mention infant formula when European supplies of powdered milk are in so many other things too.

But yes, the naivety of the leave faction in relation to potential supply issues is astounding. I really do hope that they are right and 'every thing will be ok' in the end.

CaptainBrickbeard Wed 18-Jul-18 19:37:32

pastabest I thought the pricing of formula was very rigidly controlled? Certainly for stage 1 newborn formula at least. I know when it comes to follow-on milk the regulations are much more relaxed.

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