LAHORE - The Baby Food Manufacturers and Marketers Association (BFMMA) said that prices of infant formulae would increase as a result of a 25 percent increase in duty on imported milk powders. 

The body met after the government announced that it would increase the import duty on milk powders to 46 percent.This, the association said, will have a detrimental impact on the industry and the consumers will end up bearing the brunt of it because the access of people to powder milk for infants will be reduced.

Various categories of milk powders are used as raw materials for infant formulae - essential nutrition for babies who are not fed by their mothers.

Atif Siddiqui of Nutrico (which markets Morinanga), said that the increase in custom duty may result in the increase of the price of infant formulae. “The government thinks that infant formulae are products consumed by the rich. It is not so. Considering the malnutrition statistics in a country like ours, the government should make the access to such products easier, not harder,” he said.

According to National Nutritional Survey, 43.8 percent of children under 5 are iron deficient, 54 percent children have Vitamin A deficiency and 40 percent have a deficiency of Vitamin D. S.M. Uzair, CEO Global brands which sells Meiji products in Pakistan and Coordinator (North) for the association, said,

“We appeal to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to personally intervene in this matter in order to ensure that children under five get the nourishment they need.”

The association, in a meeting, also welcomed the government’s decision to continue zero-rating on infant milk. “It is encouraging that the government has decided to continue zero-rating regime on infant formulae,” said Asim Riffat, BFMMA President. “But the increase in duty is worrying.”