There’s some hope for families struggling to get their hands on popular brands of vitamins and baby formula.
New laws from China have seen a slight drop off in Daigou shoppers, who buy Australian made goods in bulk and then send them back home.
Arborvitae has been making health supplements for Australians for the best part of a decade.
“We’ve expanded into pharmacies and health food stores, we’re now in about 500 retailers, previous to that we were just online,” said Mathew Harris of Arborvitae.
But with a population approaching 1.4 billion and a newfound fetish for wellness products, China now beckons.
“Our goal has been to make our brands here and secondarily now starting to look at how we can capitalise on the China market,” said Harris.
The traditional route to China for small businesses has been ‘daigous’.
It’s estimated the personal shoppers now number 100-thousand – and they’re often in the firing line when stores run dry of popular products – like infant formula.
But in a bid to crack down on tax avoidance, and counterfeits, new Chinese laws require daigous to register as offshore businesses. Some haven’t bothered – and have walked away.
“Australian small business benefitted a lot from the daigous – as it gave them a chance to test their product, to start moving their product and getting it into the hand of Chinese consumers,” said David Thomas from Australia China Small Business Association.
And it’s not just small businesses feeling the hit, vitamins giant Blackmores blamed a recent drop in daigou activity for an overall slump in sales.
In time, experts say the new regime could actually help Australian businesses work with a smaller pool of regulated daigous.
But don’t expect an end to this anytime soon.
We’ve got hundreds of millions of middle class consumers looking to get access to our products – we’re always going to have a shortage, I think, unless we beef up our local manufacturing,” said Thomas.