Australian supermarket shoppers brawl over milk formula

Shoppers have been filmed fighting at an Australian supermarket over an unusual item: baby formula.

Tins of formula have become objects of desire among enterprising amateur salespeople keen to get into China's black market for safe baby formula. 

The melamine scandal of 2008, in which six babies died after being fed formula that contained a dangerous chemical, created lingering mistrust in Chinese baby products.

International brands can sell for twice as much as local Chinese formula. It's become a lucrative business for many living in the West, bulk-buying tins and selling them for a mark-up. 

Video obtained by Nine News shows chaotic scenes at a Woolworths in Hurstville, Sydney. People can be seen hitting each other with bags and lying on the ground kicking at others. The footage also shows a lengthy line of shoppers clutching multiple tins of formula.

"This is a baby formula cartel, bro," one man can be heard saying. 

A similar video, filmed inside a different Australian Woolworths, caused a stir in February as it showed shoppers literally climbing over each other to grab formula from the shelves.

The most recent scrap comes on the heels of an AU$1.5 billion (NZ$1 billion) Chinese takeover of Australian formula manufacturer Bellamy's. Dairy giant Mengniu has offered a 59 percent premium to buy the company.

Bellamy's share price had previously plummeted when its products were banned from sale in China. But now Mengniu has swooped in, Bellamy's is welcome - so long as it's Chinese-owned. 

The stock market reflected the change in attitude, with shares in Bellamy's surging by more than 50 percent after Mengniu's takeover bid. 

Some politicians are sceptical about the move, with Independent MP Andrew Wilke telling Nine News that Australians feel "there are just too many corporations...being sold off to foreign buyers". 

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says Australia "maintains a non-discriminatory, case-by-case approach to considering foreign investment proposals".