Supply chain shortages impacting formula-fed babies

by mcardinal

Megan Udinski, FISM News



Supply chain issues are impacting parents and babies as infant formula becomes unattainable or extremely low in stock around the country.

Irene Anhoeck, a mother unable to breastfeed her 10-month-old son, has relied on Similac baby formula as an alternative, but due to the shortages taking place country wide, she has been unable to find it in the stores. She searched “…all the local Targets. We checked Costco, Costco online, Walgreens, Long’s. Can’t find it anywhere.”

According to the Infant Nutrition Council of America the problem in finding formula could be anything from transportation to logistics to parents hoarding it, but there is no actual shortage of the product out there. In a statement made by the council, they assure parents and caregivers “…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. There have been reports of an increase in demand in certain areas and limits on purchases in some locations. Parents are encouraged to keep a 10-day to two-week supply of infant formula on hand and avoid unnecessary stockpiling, in order to help ensure all parents and caregivers are able to obtain the formula they need.”

Reckitt, the manufacturer of Enfamil, explained that they are currently shipping out 50% more product than they normally do and are not lacking in supplies. 

While it might seem like a simple solution to just switch formula brands, some children have been prescribed specific types of formula due to allergies. Danone Nutricia, the company that makes Aptamil and Karicare, has reported supply issues of formula catering to babies with cow’s milk or soy protein allergies. 

This issue doesn’t just affect mothers in the U.S. but worldwide as well. One New Zealand mother, who preferred to remain anonymous, explained her challenges in getting ahold of a prescription formula for her five-month-old son. Her pharmacist explained that New Zealand was completely out of stock. In fact, she explained, “The hospital had one tin left, but he seems to be having a reaction to that, so we’ll have to see if that goes away and then try again.” 

After discussing the problem with her child’s pediatrician, she searched for an Australian made rice-based formula. One of the stockists is completely out and the other does not ship to New Zealand. Once taking to social media, the mother was able to get some from a mother who had a surplus of the formula, helping to buy her some time but not to finding a solution to the shortage problem. 

Suggestions for alternative ways to acquire infant formula would be reaching out to a pediatrician to see if they have samples on hand, reaching out to the manufacturers directly, or a diaper bank. 

Additionally, some non-profit organizations are stepping up to answer the pleas for help from parents. One example is Urban Baby Beginnings, a nonprofit that advocates for birthing and postpartum families in Virginia. Phyllis Bradley, the eastern regional director, explained that the cries for help continue to go up throughout the state, increasing the anxiety, depression and stress, specifically for new moms.