Baby formula crisis worsens as 40% of products are nationally out of stock

by Trinity Cardinal

Lauren Moye, FISM News

 

Supply chain issues coupled with recent Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recalls have created an unprecedented baby formula shortage. The national out-of-stock rate is now at 40%, prompting many stores to place purchasing limitations for parents.

The latest statistics show that 26 states are now struggling with severe baby formula shortages compared to the 7 states who experienced a 40-50% out-of-stock rate in April. There is a 40% out-of-stock rate for all states, according to Datasembly.

CVS, Walgreens, and Target have all instituted purchase limitations on their formula products to help counteract the shortage, according to the companies. Customers are limited to three formula purchases per transaction in-person at CVS and Walgreens. While Target does not limit in-person purchases, only four infant or toddler formulas can be bought within a store. Some Walmart store managers have also created buying limits.

Datasembly CEO Ben Reich stated, “This issue has been compounded by supply chain issues, product recalls, and historic inflation. Unfortunately, given the unprecedented amount of volatility to the category, we anticipate baby formula to continue to be one of the most affected products in the market.”

FISM reported on the formula shortage in January. At the time, the Infant Nutrition Council of America said the problem was not a product shortage and “…that there is infant formula available to meet their needs. Manufacturers have increased production and are working with retailers and government agencies to help ensure availability and continued access to infant formula.”

Since that time, the FDA has recalled three separate brands of powdered baby formulas due to potential Salmonella infections. An FDA advisory warned parents not to purchase or use certain batches of Similac, Alimentum, EleCare, or any other Abbott Nutrition brands. They also shut down operations at an Abbot production facility in Sturgis, Michigan.

The growing concern of parents became a point of concern brought before the White House during yesterday’s press meeting. Press Secretary Jen Psaki responded, “…the FDA issued a recall to ensure that they are meeting their obligation to protect the health of Americans, including babies.”

She added, “That’s their job. Ensuring the availability of these products is also a priority for the FDA, and they are working around the clock to address any possible shortage.”

When pressed for more details of how the Biden Administration planned to assist parents in this matter, Psaki emphasized that the FDA is “independent” within the administration. She said the FDA is working to increase formula production, optimize supply lines, and prioritize the most needed product lines.

According to Psaki, the FDA is considering the sometimes highly specialized needs of infants due to allergies or age. She explained, “They’re also exercising flexibility and expediting review of notifications of manufacturing changes that will help increase supply, particularly in the case of specialized formula — so that applies to that as well — for medical needs.”

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