America’s widespread baby food shortage is getting worse
president Joe Biden‘s administration announced its 17th Operation Fly Formula mission Monday as marketing data shows the baby formula shortage is worsening.
The administration announced two flights to transport Nestlé Health Science’s amino acid-based formula from Switzerland to John F. Kennedy Airport in New York on July 21 and 22.
The shipment will contain the equivalent of 802,446 8-ounce bottles of formula, which will be distributed primarily to hospitals and home care providers.
But despite the government-announced spate of flights, US stores are still struggling to stock baby formula on their shelves.
According to market research firm IRI, formula availability has fallen to its lowest level so far this year, with about 30% of products being out of stock in the week ending July 3.
A White House official told the DailyMail that “we are seeing some rebuilding of retailer inventories”.
The official acknowledged it was early days but said the numbers were “showing improvement”. So far, higher cumulative year-to-date sales compared to last year suggest families are gaining access.’
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre defended the government’s actions on Monday, saying the government is working to boost domestic production but remains focused on safety issues.
“The federal government has been working in lockstep with the private sector to boost domestic production and increase supply,” she said at her daily press briefing.
“We’re upgrading for domestic production,” she noted. She pointed to increased imports of foreign formulas and waivers of federal regulations tied to low-income supplement funds.
“We will do everything we can to increase production. But again, we want to make sure safety comes first,” she said.
The Biden administration announced the 17th Operation Fly Formula: two flights to transport Nestlé Health Science’s amino acid-based formula from Switzerland to John F. Kennedy Airport in New York on July 21 and 22 (above is one flight from London arriving in the US on June 17)
But US stores are struggling to stock shelves: Formula availability has fallen to its lowest level so far this year, with about 30% of products out of stock in the week ended July 3
That equates to a 70% share price for the week, down from last week’s 77% share price.
IRI tracks product inventory in more than 125,000 stores across the United States. Rates hovered around 90% before the February recall and factory closure for Abbott Laboratories that triggered the shortage.
President Biden launched Operation Fly Formula “to expedite the importation of infant formula and get more formula into stores as quickly as possible,” the White House noted.
By July 24, Operation Fly Formula will have shipped more than 61 million eight-ounce bottle equivalents to the United States, the administration noted.
But that’s not enough.
US consumers typically buy enough powdered formula to make about 65 million 8-ounce bottles a week.
The hardest-hit states with inventories below 60% include Utah, Wyoming, Kansas and Colorado.
Alaska has the biggest shortage with an inventory ratio of 51%. State with the best supply situation is New York with 81%.
Parents are also finding fewer choices of brands, sizes or formats of infant formula on grocery store shelves as shortages continue.
U.S. supermarkets sold an average of 11 different formula products per store per week for the four weeks ended June 26, according to IRI data shared with the wall street journal, compared to a weekly average of 24 from 2018 to 2021.
“We’re months – months – away from an end to these shortages,” a source said in a recent FDA call on the issue Politically last week.
President Biden launched Operation Fly Formula “to expedite the importation of infant formula and get more formula into stores as quickly as possible.”
The shortage was sparked in February when Abbott Laboratories closed its Sturgis, Michigan plant and initiated a recall while food safety regulators investigated a potentially fatal contamination.
The plant has been responsible for producing about one-fifth of US food and is a major supplier of specialty foods that babies with special needs depend on to survive.
Operations resumed in early June but halted less than two weeks later after severe storms inundated part of the facility.
It resumed operations on July 1 and is focused on manufacturing the specialty formula Elecare, which is made for babies with digestive problems.
Management was slow to respond to the shortage, but then turned to ramping up domestic production and introducing international brands to alleviate the shortage.
In May, the president invoked the Defense Manufacturing Act, which requires suppliers to prioritize providing resources to manufacture infant formula over all other contracts.
Almost 98% of baby food is produced domestically. Four companies make up about 90% of the market: Abbott, Reckitt, Nestlé and Perrigo.