Photo of Surgeon Koh Poh Koon from straitstimes

When queried in Parliament what is the government’s response to the rapid increase in prices for baby formula milk powder, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon said that Singaporeans have the option to go for cheaper brands which he claimed “cheaper options are no less nutritious”:

“Cheaper options are no less nutritious. As long as your child can get used to the milk or they are not suffering from any allergic reaction to that particular brand of milk, there’s no real reason to pay more for something that is just as good and much cheaper. There is already a range of milk formula on the shelves with prices for a 900g tin starting from about $20 to $30, up to about $60.”

The newly-promoted Senior Minister side-stepped the parliament questions and did not explain why prices have inflated 120% over 10 years, or why milk powder of the same brand is the most expensive in the world in Singapore.

Read: Infant milk most expensive in the world, inflate 120% in 10 years

Senior Minister Koh Poh Koon instead said that he will review import requirements to allow more brands into the Singapore market. The Minister also said he will make the milk powder less appealing to consumers, by imposing censorship on advertisements through the prohibiting of nutrition and health claims and “idealised images” for infant formula milk:

“While some infant formula companies give the impression that their particular brand of milk or milk powder can do more for children, the scientific evidence for this is weak. All infant formula sold in Singapore regardless of their price meets Singapore’s food regulations and nutritional needs for infants to grow healthily. Parents should therefore be careful about relying on the claims made by infant formula companies or be misled into using price as a proxy for quality of the product.”