An international student has lifted the lid on ‘daigou’ shopping, revealing she makes a fortune selling Australian baby formula to Chinese buyers.
Angela Zhang lives in Melbourne, and can spend up to 15 hours a day taking orders from overseas clients on social media app WeChat.
As the messaging service is Chinese-owned, it makes it difficult for the Australian Government to monitor the daigou transactions.
Ms Zhang is able to carry out between 70 and 100 sales each week and seals deals with buyers in just minutes, the ABC reported.
The student is a ‘daigou’ shopper – Chinese for ‘buyer on behalf of’ – who pays her expensive university fees, accommodation and living costs by selling Australian products to overseas customers.
Angela Zhang lives in Melbourne and can spend up to 15 hours a day taking orders from overseas clients on social media app WeChat
Ms Zhang is one of as many as 150,000 daigous in Australia taking advantage of an industry estimated to be worth $2.5billion (stock image)
Ms Zhang recommends products to buyers who trust her expertise.
The product is then sent to one of the 600 to 1,000 specialty stores scattered around Australia, passed on to logistics firms and finally flown overseas.
As many as half a million packages of Australian-owned products – including baby formula, clothes and groceries – are being sent to China every week.
Ms Zhang is one of as many as 150,000 daigous in Australia taking advantage of an industry estimated to be worth $2.5billion.
The baby formula crisis takes its roots in 2008 China, when the country was rocked with high infant mortality rates.
As many as six children died from kidney damage and 300,000 were left sick due to poor quality baby formula that had been adulterated with melamine.
The product is sometimes illegally added to food to boost its protein content, though can lead to kidney stones, damage and bladder cancer.
Consumer confidence dropped and Chinese buyers looked to overseas markets to source trustworthy products.
Personal shoppers in Australia have seized the opportunity and liaised with potential clients overseas to purchase the products.
Furious customers back home have shared footage online of shoppers brazenly taking large quantities of baby formula from store shelves.
Supermarkets have responded by introducing a limit on the number of tins to be sold to customers, though the shoppers have always found a way.
Shoplifting gangs – unrelated to daigous – have taken to stealing baby formula from supermarkets.
An alleged ring of baby formula thieves were busted in Melbourne towards the end of July.
More than 40 burglaries were allegedly carried out in one month.
Four men and a woman were arrested and charged after a series of burglaries where formula was stolen at Springvale, Clayton, Bundoora, Point Cook and Werribee in June and July.
The group, all from St Albans, are facing burglary and theft charges for more than 40 burglaries which allegedly took place between June 19 to July 14.
Ms Zhang recommends products to buyers who trust her expertise. Pictured: A recreation of messages between Ms Zhang and a customer
Supermarkets have responded by introducing a limit on the number of tins to be sold to customers, though the shoppers have always found a way (Pictured: A shopper sits in front of three trolleys filled with baby formula, despite a limit placed on product purchases at supermarkets)
Her business is so lucrative that Ms Zhang even quit her job to focus solely on the venture.
Ms Zhang said she got into daigou shopping after a friend asked her to send Australian products to her while on holiday over Christmas.
The next day she got 15 queries from other people keen to buy Australian products.
Melbourne University graduate and daigou Yaqiong Hu said that her parents were skeptical of her getting involved in the industry, but changed their minds once they saw how much money they were making.
‘When they realised the income exceeded that of an office job, they started to see it as a career.’
Furious customers back home have shared footage online of shoppers brazenly taking large quantities of baby formula from store shelves (pictured, a stunned shopper photographs customers racing to buy baby formula in a supermarket)
Ms Zhang said she got into the business after a friend asked her to send Australian products to her while on Christmas vacation (stock image)
Businesses have attempted to sidestep daigous and expand their ventures into China themselves.
Bellamy was one such company that looked to sell directly to China, but the business plan failed as customers in Asia enjoy the direct trust they have with daigous.
Daigou Yaqiong Hu is able to livestream the products she sells with as many as tens of thousands of potential clients watching at the same time.
The difference in business approach has led companies like Blackmores to accept daigous as essential to their operations.
At a recent daigou event, the company’s CFO Aaraon Canning called for companies to ’embrace’ the personal shoppers.
Courier company Chang Jiang International Express says it sends 400 tonnes of products to China every month.
Publicly-listed daigou specialty business AUMake reported a 121 per cent increase in sales in May compared to the same time last year.
Melbourne University graduate and daigou Yaqiong Hu said that her parents were skeptical of her becoming a daigou, but changed their tune once they saw how much profit she was raking in (stock image)