- As supplies of infant formula became more limited, out-of-stock rates increased to 40% from 31% two weeks earlier.
- Shortages have prompted retailers including CVS, Target and Walgreens to limit purchases of infant formula.
- Shortages are even worse in some states: Tennessee, Texas, Missouri, Iowa, South Dakota and North Dakota face supply shortages higher than 50%.
The There is an ongoing shortage of infant formula It’s not over yet – and seems to be getting worse.
Nearly 40% of popular baby formula brands were sold out at retailers across the US in the week starting April 24, according to analysis by Datasembly, which assesses supplies at more than 11,000. shop.
This is up from an already high out-of-stock rate of 31% two weeks ago, Datasembly said.
Major retailers including CVS, Target and Walgreens are limiting how much formula buyers can buy.
Walgreens Boots Alliance spokesman Steve Cohen said: “Due to increased demand and multiple supplier challenges, infant and toddler formula milk is being limited globally. nationwide.
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The situation is similar at CVS, which limits three formula products per purchase in its stores and online, according to a statement for USA TODAY from CVS Health, which owns the pharmacy chain. . “We are continuing to work with our formula suppliers to resolve this issue and we apologize for any inconvenience this has caused our customers,” the statement said. continue.
Target is also limiting shoppers to a maximum of four formula products at a time, retailer told CBS News.
After visiting three different stores in one day last month, Elyssa Schmier, the advocacy group’s vice president of government relations MomsRising“suddenly realized that my recipe was nowhere to be found,” she told USA TODAY. “It was almost a full-time job trying to find Similac.”
Infant formula recalls worse situation
Exacerbating the problem already voluntary recall of Abbott Nutrition issued in mid-February recalling lots of Similac, Alimentum and EleCare formula manufactured in Sturgis, Michigan. That recall has been extended at the end of February to include a batch of Similac PM 60/40.
Later, Food and Drug Administration issued preliminary findings in March that a formula manufacturer failed to maintain hygienic conditions and procedures at that plant.
The FDA continues to investigate the situation at Abbott and is “working with Abbott to safely resume production at the Sturgis, Michigan facility,” a notice of the recall on its website.
“We know that the recall has created new concerns about the availability of certain infant formulas, especially given the overall strains on the supply chain experienced during the pandemic. COVID-19,” FDA said. “We will continue to discuss with Abbott Nutrition and other infant formula manufacturers and review all available tools to support the delivery of infant formula products.”
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An Abbott spokesman told The Wall Street Journal on Friday, the company found that that factory-made formulation “was not likely to be a source of infection in the reported cases and there were no outbreaks due to products from the facility.”
While waiting for that factory to reopen, Abbott is trying to increase Similac production at its other plants and ship infant formula from Europe, the Journal reported.
Similarly, manufacturer Enfamil has factories running continuously to increase supply, Reckitt Benckiser Group told the Journal.
Reckitt told CBS News that the company had “abundant supply” but that sales of infant formula in the US increased by 18%, which is “more than double” the birth rate.
Reckitt has “taken a number of measures – including shipping 30% more product in Q1, operating our factories 24/7 with 3 shifts per day, and streamlining our portfolio to focus on the scales that allow us to deliver the most relevant formula.” the company said in a statement to USA TODAY. “We have also significantly increased our quality assurance resources to ensure our rigorous safety standards are maintained.”
Where the formula shortage is the worst
Infant formula shortages began to emerge near the end of November 2021 when about 11% of popular brands were out of stock, Datasembly said. Prior to that for much of 2021, supply was “relatively stable and (shortage) ranged between 2%-8%,” the research firm said in a statement. most recent report.
Recalls, supply chain shortages and inflation have impacted infant formula supplies, Ben Reich, CEO and founder of Datasembly said in the report.
“Unfortunately, out-of-stock baby formula has continued to skyrocket since the beginning of April and we see no signs of slowing down,” he said. “, said Reich / in an email exchange with USA TODAY.
Shortages are even worse in some states and cities.
Six states – Tennessee, Texas, Missouri, Iowa, South Dakota and North Dakota – faced supply shortages higher than 50% for the week starting April 24, Datasembly said. The metro area with the highest percentage of out-of-bounds is San Antonio, with 57%, followed by Memphis & Nashville (52%), and Des Moines & Houston (50%).
Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @mikesnider.