A growing baby formula shortage has retailers like Target and Walmart limiting purchases, leaving parents to make multiple trips just to confront empty shelves in the wake of a recent recall by Abbott Laboratories.
In February, Abbott recalled powdered formula manufactured at a Michigan plant after several babies fell ill with bacterial infections and two died, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The recall compounded existing inventory troubles due to supply chain snarls and ingredient shortages brought on by the pandemic. Now, families in some parts of the country are finding formula tough to come by.
“We know that this recall has further exacerbated an industry-wide infant formula supply shortage. We are doing everything we can to address it,” Abbott told The Washington Post in a statement, including ramping up production of Similac, air-freighting in product from Europe and working with health-care providers to identify alternative formulas.
The report, released on 10 May, showed that the out-of-stock rate for baby formula in the US was at 43% for the week ending May 8. It was at 40% during the previous week. By comparison, in the first half of 2021, when the supply of formula was considered stable, the out-of-stock rate was between 2% and 8%. But the rate has been steadily increasing since then. Additional data from the agency found that more than 50% of formula is out of stock in eight states and the District of Columbia. For the week prior, only six states had that level of shortage.
The Biden administration has said on 12 May that the White House and the US Food and Drug Administration are working around the clock to address the shortage.