There have been shops all over the country for months struggling to get enough baby formula. Manufacturers say they are producing at full capacity and making as much formula as possible, but that is still not enough to meet current demand.
The stock depletion rate for baby adapters ranged between 2% and 8% in the first half of 2021, but began to rise sharply last July. Between November 2021 and the beginning of April 2022, the percentage of exhausted stocks jumped to 31%, data from Data collection shown.
This percentage has increased by another 9% in the last two weeks alone and is now 40%, statistics show. In six states – Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Missouri, Texas and Tennessee – more than half of the baby formula was completely sold out in the week beginning April 24, Datasembly reported.
And although seven states had between 40-50% of baby formula products depleted since early April, 26 states are now struggling with supplies.
“This problem is compounded by supply chain problems, product withdrawals and historic inflation,” said Datasembly CEO Ben Reich. “Unfortunately, given the unprecedented variability of the category, we expect the baby formula to continue to be one of the most affected products on the market.
CVS confirmed on Saturday that it limits customers across the country to three foods for young children and infants per transaction. “We continue to work diligently with our supplier partners to best meet customer requirements,” CVS told CNN Business.
A Target spokesman confirmed that the retailer had limited purchases of baby formula to four units per customer for online purchases. There is no limit to the number of items that can be purchased in person at Target stores, the company said.
Customers shared images of social media of Walmart, which imposes similar restrictions on sales of infant formula, although Walmart has not confirmed whether this is a national policy. Images shared with CNN Business show empty shelves where baby milk should be, and a sign saying only five units per customer are allowed.
Walmart did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNN Business.
The shortage is exacerbated by the Food and Drug Administration’s closure of an Abbott Nutrition facility in Sturgis, Michigan. Abbot is a major manufacturer of baby formula.
In February, the US Food and Drug Administration recall three brands of baby formula powders made by the company due to potential bacterial infections, including Salmonella. The agency advised parents not to buy or use certain batches of Similac, Alimentum and EleCare baby powder, all Abbot brands.
A a former Abbott Nutrition employee has filed a complaint for irregularities with the FDA months before the withdrawal, documenting fears that the company was hiding safety issues in its Sturgess, Michigan. The milk produced at the facility was withdrawn after four babies who drank it contracted a rare infection caused by the bacterium Cronobacter sakazakii. Two babies have died, the complaint said.
A Abbott spokesman noted that the withdrawal only affected batches of formulas produced and distributed by its facility in Sturgess, Michigan, and said no other product Abbott was distributing had tested positive for salmonella or other pathogens.
Finding a standard formula it became difficult for the parents, many of whom described the unusual things they had done to put in even one box or bottle. A specialized formula is even more difficult to find against the background of widespread shortages. Parents travel to neighboring states to try their luck, and many ask for help on social media, begging strangers to share or even exchange any additional supplies they may have.
Abbott told CNN in a statement Saturday that he was working closely with the FDA to resume operations at his Michigan plant.
“We continue to make progress on corrective action and will take further action as we work to address issues related to the recent withdrawal. In the meantime, we are working to increase the supply of infant food by prioritizing infant production at our facilities that market products in the United States, “Abbott told CNN Business.
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