Cost of artificial milk and breastfeeding - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 03-24-2004, 09:35 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi, I'm an Italian mom still breastfeeding my son who is 15 months old.
Artificial milk in Italy is very expensive, about more than twice the price in the other Euro countries. The a.m. companies were fined hugely because of the anti-trust law, but they still sell artificial milk at the same price as usual.
They said that is because of the moms that are brestfeeding that they have to mantain the price so high! They said that there are too many moms breastfeeding in Italy!
I know that is simply not true, very few people breastfeed here.
A group of moms and I are thinking to write an email to a tv show about this subject, but we need: 1) precise information about breastfeeding statistics in Europe; 2) costs of the artificial milk in the other European contries. We need to match this two info and prove that the companies are telling lies.
If any of you moms could help, I will be grateful!
Thanks in advance!
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#2 of 8 Old 03-24-2004, 12:05 PM
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I'm curious as to why you would even feel the need to speak out on this? The higher the price of formula, the more moms would BF I'd think?
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#3 of 8 Old 03-24-2004, 12:12 PM - Thread Starter
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I need to speak out because breastfeeding moms are blamed on newspaper and media by these companies as the cause of the high price of a.m.
And you know, not everybody can really breastfeed... and here in Italy, despite the high price of the formula, very few people breastfeed. The reason is that breastfeeding is not supported in hospitals, pediatrician are getting money from a.m companies to induce moms to quit breastfeeding. So the people that cannot breastfeed is more than the 5% that is the normal average.
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#4 of 8 Old 03-24-2004, 12:54 PM
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I can't remember where, but I read a study that showed that the cost of artificial milk did not play a role in whether or not women breastfeed, for the most part. I always think of adoptive parents, too, when I hear about the cost of formula. Yes, some women can relactate, but many cannot or do not want to.

Anyway, I don't have any numbers for you, just support for your cause.
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#5 of 8 Old 03-24-2004, 01:07 PM
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This may have info in it that you are looking for:

Karen - Mama to Haven (9/00) , Lillie & Faith (MZ - 12/02) and my first homebirthed baby, Willa (3/08)
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#6 of 8 Old 03-25-2004, 12:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally posted by 1Plus2
This may have info in it that you are looking for:
Thanks, It was interesting!
But about Europe I found a research in the consumer league of Tuscany website and I'm going to email this:
-quote from

Why diverse prices of infant formula in Europe never seems harmonised?

The benefits of breast-milk over artificial formula are unquestionable, and the matter is of interest to more than 3 million European new-borns and families/year, but the efforts to promote, protect and monitoring breast-feeding are, again, minute compared to the marketing actions.1 In March 2000 the Italian Competition Authority imposed a penalty of 3 million euros to six of the major infant formula manufacturers (present not only in Italy) because they had agreed on fixed prices in order to avoid competition and to share the market.2 Three years ago it was documented that artificial formula milk price differentials in EU were high, in particular in Italy.3
To evaluate the present situation, a similar assessment was repeated and implemented.

Methods and Results
On a single day, the same product (one of the best-selling powdered starting formulas in Italy), and package size (900 g), as the one used for the comparison three years before, was bought in pharmacies in Italy (Milan), France (Paris), Spain (Barcelona), United Kingdom (London) and Germany (Bonn). The distressing findings were the same. The price ranged from €16.38 (Bonn) to €34.00 (Milan), with small differences between France, Spain, United Kingdom and Germany, but with a large difference between these countries and Italy. No correlation was observed between formula price and the price of a controlled product (a well-selling car in Europe was chosen as an example), income, inflation, annual births, or rate of breastfed children (table).

Cost of reference infant milk formula and of reference car, income, inflation rate, annual birth, and breastfed children, in four European countries

Cost Formula (€/g)Cost Car* (€)GNI per head† (€)HICP‡Annual no. of births° (thousands)Children exclusively breastfed at 4 months§ (%)
Italy0.037714 33320 0102.251137
Spain0.019614 57014 9603.036044
France0.018913 73123 6701.773215
United Kingdom0.018614 07524 5000.866828
Germany0.018214 57025 0501.871833
*Price after tax of the same basic model; source European Commission on car prices. †Gross National Income; source World Bank. ‡Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices for food, as percentage change on corresponding month of previous year; source EUROSTAT. °Source UNICEF. §Source WHO Regional Office for Europe.

The price differencials are still substantial and unacceptable inside a “common community”. In Italy breast-milk substitutes are listed in the National Compendia as drugs and parapharmaceutical products and are sold prevalently in pharmacies, compared to other EU countries, where they are sold also in other shops. Italian consumers are therefore led to believe that these are health goods and that, like drugs, they are regulated and monitored by the health authority.
Medical professionals, however, could also help support breast-feeding and limit extreme overpricing. In fact, formula companies are continuing to offer economic support to medical paediatric and obstetric societies, fund meetings and journals (too often of questionable scientific value), give gadgets, and donate medical instrumentation. All these actions affect the price of formula significantly and their costs fall on the families. Thus, if something is moving in the drug field concerning direct and indirect conflicts of interest, and evaluation of information, it doesn’t involve the relationship between scientific societies, medical professionals, and the formula industry.4
Because of the impotence, or incapacity to take steps to regulate such inequality at a national level, only EU initiatives could possibly be effective. The breast-milk-substitute business, compared to other important market segments such as drugs or cars, can only be of secondary importance for harmonisation and transparency across EU countries. However, taking into account the large number of interested families, that the differences of prices are to add to the lack of a national policy on feeding infants (situation common to other countries, i.e. UK)5, and that the EU, and the common market, is expanding the situations such as the Italian one are likely to become more common.

Maurizio Bonati

Laboratory for Mother and Child Health, Istituto di Ricerche "Mario Negri", Via Eritrea 62, 20157 Milan, Italy (e-mail:

1. Waterston T, Tumwine J. Monitoring the marketing of infant formula feeds. BMJ 2003; 326: 113-4.

2. Provvedimento n. 8087 (1328) Latte artificiale per neonato, 2 marzo 2000. (

3. Bonati M. Why such diverse prices of infant formula in Europe? Lancet 2000; 355: 321-2.

4. Tamburlini G, Marolla L, Bonati M. Italian paediatric association has launched code on competing interests. BMJ 2000; 320: 382

5. Sachs M. WHO’s global strategy is tool to protect breast feeding and child health. BMJ 2003; 326:984.

-end quote

So, in Germany breastfeeding rates at 4 monts are 33% and the cost of artificial milk is 16,38 Euro, while in Italy breastfeeding rates at 4 months are 37% and the cost of the artificial milk is 34,00 Euro. It seems that the companies that make the artificial milk are telling lies!
Now we can attack them.

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#7 of 8 Old 03-25-2004, 03:07 PM
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You go, Italian Mamma! :bf
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#8 of 8 Old 03-25-2004, 03:37 PM
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Sorry if I'm stating the obvious here, but:

How dare these companies FAULT women for doing what they are supposed to do! Our bodies are developed to breastfeed our babies, it's not our "fault" that we do it, it's just what our boobs were created to do. Why don't they just go ahead and hold evolution accountable for the price of artificial milk while they are at it? "darn that evolution - if it hadn't given women breasts to feed their babies we could sell this artificial milk really cheap."
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