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Friday, June 24, 2016

Chinese kids are turning into cereal killers


Remember those compressed blocks of cardboard that have masqueraded as edible breakfast food in every Australian household, hotel, motel, boarding house and - dare I say it? - construction camp since time immemorial?

Boxes of this travesty of food, also known as Australia's iconic cereal Weet-Bix, are being cleared from supermarket shelves — and secretly sold to Chinese consumers for as much as $50.

Such is the demand for the bite-size treat, savvy sellers are systematically raiding a variety of stores and stockpiling the product in homes and warehouses.

The Chinese appetite for Weet-Bix follows the backyard baby formula scandal which led to nationwide shortages and forced the government to stop thousands of tins from illegally leaving for China.

Demand for Weet-Bix has seen a recent sharp increase and enterprising sellers are capitalising on a growing demand, onselling boxes online at huge marked up prices.

On the website Yoycart, which operates similar to eBay, 1.4kg boxes of the cereal were listed as high as $US39, roughly $50, while 1kg packs were going for $US28 or $37.

Domestically the 1.2kg box sells for only $4.50 at Woolworths and the 1.4kg box will set you back just $5 in Coles.

The site also lists some creative descriptions of the simple cereal, with one seller calling it “Advance Australia Weet-Bix sugar cooked ready to eat cereal” and an “ode to joy with breakfast”.

A Coles spokesman said the chain had seen a spike in sales in recent weeks. “We have seen an increase in sales of Weet-Bix in a number of stores over recent weeks.”

Pictures have emerged of shoppers bulk-buying trolleys full of the wheat-based cereal made by Australian company Sanitarium, similar to what was seen in the baby-formula saga.

One photo shows a customer in a Melbourne supermarket using a self-serve checkout to buy an entire large trolley worth of the cereal.

Figures reveal China is the biggest export market for the popular cereal for Australian -owned Sanitarium Health and Wellbeing Company.

Woolworths, who were forced to place a limit of four baby formula cans per customer after bulk-buying of the product to onsell to China caused supply issues late last year, declined to comment on the trend.

Invented in 1926 (by a cardboard manufacturer who'd gone out of business and wanted to get rid of his remaining stock), the popular breakfast cereal was picked up by the Seventh Day Adventist-owned company Sanitarium two years later.

Now a billion Chinese want to eat this stuff smothered in milk. As for me, instead of milk with my cereal I use wine and then also instead of my cereal I use wine.