Milk shortage causing frenzy

blue@samoanews.com

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — When Samoa News walked into a small mom-and-pop store on the east side last week to purchase some milk, we were told by the storeowners that milk purchases are now limited to only those mothers who present checks/ coupons from the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program.

This is the same thing consumers around the island are being told.

"If you are not buying milk using WIC checks, I cannot sell to you," was the response Samoa News got yesterday afternoon when we tried to buy milk at an Asian owned store in town. "We are saving the milk for the kids on the WIC program because they are infants and toddlers who need it most."

Currently, there is a huge shortage of Devondale milk worldwide. Devondale comes in an assortment that includes full cream, semi skim, and smart calcium milk — very popular amongst local consumers, young and old.

But now it's becoming harder and harder to find.

Samoa News visited 5 stores on the west side last week and discovered that there was no milk. Cost-U-Less still has milk in stock, but not the ones that can be purchased under the WIC program —They have flavored milk like soybean and almond.

Samoa News contacted Devondale's local distributor Wightman, Crane & Stuart yesterday for comments regarding the shortage but was told, "None of the bosses are in the office."

Samoa News then reached out to Panamex Pacific and general manager Kahleena Strachan, who confirmed that there was in fact a shortage of milk in the territory, and they are trying hard to "fill in the gap."

Panamex Pacific is the local distributor for Anchor Milk, which is accepted under the WIC program.

According to her, Panamex usually brings in a container of milk per month. But they had not anticipated a shortage of milk and therefore, she has upped the order to 2 containers, both of which are scheduled to arrive later this month on April 26th.

She said their most recent container landed the week before last and all the milk was sold out in two days.

Most of the milk coming in the 2 containers that are set to arrive later this month has been pre-sold, meaning they are already spoken for. Strachan said some of the businesses they pre-sold the milk to are now coming in to increase their orders.

This is because according to some business owners Samoa News spoke to last week, there are rumors that the Devondale milk order that was supposed to land on the week of the 26th is going to be delayed — again.

Strachan said that because of the demand and the high number of orders coming in, another order for Anchor Milk has been placed and a container is set to arrive shortly after the 26th.

She explained that an order usually takes about four weeks — from the order date — to arrive.

Samoa News understands that the problem with the Devondale shortage has to do with the company going through an owner change.

According to Australian Food News, "Australian dairy co-operative Murray Goulburn has announced that it has been bought by Saputo for $1.3 billion. Murray Goulburn, formed in 1950 and home to ten processing plants in Tasmania, New South Wales and Victoria is the manufacturer of prominent supermarket brands Devondale, Liddells and Table Cove.

"Its acquisition by the Canadian company Saputo comes as a result of the significant debt that exists within Murray Goulburn."

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