Shops flout baby milk pricing law
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has begun intensive monitoring visits to a number of shops and pharmacies across the Kingdom in order to verify the application of the ministerial decree concerning the new pricing policy for infant formula.
Inspectors from different branches of the ministry detected more than 100 violations to the new pricing policy during inspections of more than 600 supermarkets, shops and pharmacies.
According to the ministry, while a number of these retailers were closed down, most of the shops and pharmacies in the Kingdom have successfully complied with the pricing regulations.
The ministry said its officials will continue to carry out inspection tours to ensure the policy is being fully implemented, as well as to follow up on complaints and violation reports from citizens.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry announced that the decree regarding setting a price cap on infant formula came into effect on Wednesday, indicating that the decision was based on reports of unreasonably high prices of infant formula as compared to prices in neighboring countries.
On the other hand, a field tour of some pharmacies revealed the lack of commitment by 80 percent of the companies supplying the infant formula to the new pricing policy issued by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Some pharmacies have indicated that only three out of 15 manufacturing and supply companies have committed to the new prices, asserting that the pharmacies are committed to the price lists issued by these suppliers.
They said that the majority of baby milk products in the local market are imported, and that the ministry did not impose standardized prices for the different types of infant formula on the company because defining an upper limit for these prices only aims to reduce the profit margins.
They anticipated that companies will start committing to the new price lists issued by the Ministry of Trade and Industry from the beginning of the next week, especially as the ministry will begin monitoring pricing levels and the commitment of these companies to the regulations.
In Jeddah, the majority of shops and retailers have already begun to implement the new price lists, while a number of well-known grocery and department stores are still selling infant formula at the old and inflated prices.
Muhammad Ilyas, a pharmacist, urged authorities to limit the sale of the children’s milk to pharmacies only, as they are more likely to stick to the government-fixed price list than grocery and retail stores.