PIn the face of an ongoing shortage in baby formula supply, arents all over America have taken to social media and crossed states to find it amid increasing national tensions.
According to Datasembly analysis of over 11,000 U.S. stores, 40% of the most popular brands of baby formula were out of stock in the last week. That’s up from 31% less than two weeks earlier, and 11% in November 2021.
Datasemly revealed that nearly half of all baby formula products in Iowa and South Dakota was sold out during the week ending April 24.
According to USA Today, major retailers such as Walgreens and CVS have had to reduce the supply of specially-formulated milk that customers are allowed to buy. ImagesPhotos shared via social media showed empty shelves within the formula aisles.
Is there an acute shortage in baby formula?
Over the last few months, a variety of factors has put pressure on both national and international supply chains. COVID-19 has caused staff shortages, there is an increase in demand for services and products, as well as increased production and sales following loosening of restrictions. There are also the conflicts in Ukraine, which have resulted, among other things, in shortages of certain commodities.
Continue reading: The Supply Chain: How American Shoppers Defeated the Suppliers
But the shortage of baby formula was exacerbated when Abbott—producer of top U.S. brand Similac—shut a major factory in Michigan and issued three product recalls in February over contamination concerns. The Food and Drug Administration reported that four infants fell ill and two of them died after they were given formula made in the factory.
The FDA released preliminary findings in March that Abbott had failed to keep the factory clean. In a statement, the FDA stated that the regulator is currently working with Abbott to reopen its Michigan facility.
But pressure is mounting on the FDA, which was accused by Democratic Representative Rosa DeLauro of responding “too slowly” to the shortages.
“A nationwide formula shortage has left babies without proper nutrition and parents without options,” Republican Senator Tom Cotton tweeted. “The @us_fda must do everything in its power to reopen the Abbott plant.”
Abbott supplies baby formula for low-income women and their children via state benefits programs like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, And Children (WIC). Brian Dittmeier from the National WIC Association stated that more than half of WIC-assisting agencies used the only supplier of Abbott baby formula.
Recent weeks have seen panic buying add to the crisis. The BBC reports that Walgreens is limiting the number of cans they sell to consumers, restricting them to only three. One 12.4 ounce can of formula will typically yield around 15 bottles. These would last only a few days.
Walgreens said in a statement to the BBC that it was working with its suppliers “to best meet customer demands.”
What is the position of baby formula companies regarding this crisis?
Abbott stated in a statement it was working with FDA to close its Michigan facility and that extra formula is being shipped from an Irish plant. It expects that shipments to this country will double in the coming year.
“We know that our recent recall caused additional stress and anxiety in an already challenging situation of a global supply shortage,” Abbott said in a statement last month. “We are working hard to help moms, dads and caregivers get the high-quality nutrition they need for their babies.”
Other suppliers are adapting to meet consumers’ increased demand following the Abbott recall. USA Today was informed by the manufacturer of Enfamil that their factories operate 24/7, and it shipped 30% more formulas during the first quarter.
How can caregivers and parents help?
These shortages make parents and caregivers very anxious. Some people have taken to social media platforms to track stock levels at various stores. Other have traveled across the country or paid exorbitant prices online. Many eBay listings selling four infant formula cans were listed at prices exceeding $130 on Tuesday.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to find special formulas that are suitable for infants with medical conditions or allergies. These products can be difficult to find, especially since infants are often unable to drink other options. The FDA advises parents and caregivers to contact their child’s healthcare provider if they cannot access these essential specialist formulas.
Also, the FDA has issued guidance on how to determine if formula products are included in recent recalls. FDA cautioned against diluting formula for infants or making homemade substitutes.
Does baby formula expire?
Yes, baby formula expires. You should see the can to find out when your baby formula expires. This is typically a year for products that have not been opened. FDA cautions against purchasing formula online outside of the United States as they could be counterfeit.
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