New Zealand officials are working together to prevent the illegal export of infant formula from New Zealand.
The unlawful trade is estimated to be valued in excess of $150 million and Customs and Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) officials say it is growing.
MPI Food and Beverage Manager Glen Neal says there has been a considerable increase in the exports, particularly into the Asian area.
He said there are a number of players involved and the first step was to inform them about the rules and their need to comply.
Some people may not be aware they are operating outside the law, said Neal.
"This has nothing to do with the safety of New Zealand infant formula.
"In fact, New Zealand infant formula is highly regarded and sought after in our export markets."
China's Melamine milk scandal in 2008, which saw six babies die and thousands fall ill, was followed by an increase in demand for New Zealand's more reliable product.
Under New Zealand law (Animal Products Act 1999) only registered exporters can export dairy material, including products such as infant formula.
Exporting infant formula is worth over $750 million a year to the NZ economy, but it's not just bigger operations trying to make a profit.
Some people are buying in bulk in supermarkets and sending the formula to relatives overseas, meaning stores are running low on stock, prompting some to impose limits on the amount people can buy.
"In some cases New Zealand parents have been complaining that they need to travel to four or five supermarkets to find a stock of formula," says Katherine Rich from the Food and Grocery Council.
Meanwhile, the group representing New Zealand marketers and manufacturers of infant formula is welcoming the crackdown.
Infant Nutrition Council CEO Jan Carey says it's important New Zealand's reputation is protected as a reputable source of infant formula products.
And she says it's important China understands that New Zealand will do the right thing, rather than getting products through the back door.
Carey says she understands most of the illegal trade is due to ignorance rather than deliberately flouting the rules.
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- with Newstalk ZB