What is causing the baby formula shortage? Recall on numerous brands makes search for infant formulas much more difficult
3.9k Share this

NEW YORK — For months stores nationwide have been struggling to stock enough baby formula. Manufacturers say they’re producing at full capacity and making as much formula as they can, but it’s still not enough to meet current demand.

The out-of-stock rate for baby formula hovered between 2% and 8% in the first half of 2021, but began rising sharply last July. Between November 2021 and early April 2022, the out-of-stock rate jumped to 31%, data from Datasembly showed.

That rate increased another 9 percentage points in just three weeks in April, and now stands at 40%, the statistics show. In six states – Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Missouri, Texas and Tennessee – more than half of baby formula was completely sold out during the week starting April 24, Datasembly said.

And although seven states had between 40-50% of baby formula products out of stock as of early April, 26 states are now struggling with supply.

“This issue has been compounded by supply chain issues, product recalls and historic inflation,” Datasembly CEO Ben Reich said. “Unfortunately, given the unprecedented amount of volatility to the category, we anticipate baby formula to continue to be one of the most affected products in the market.”

CVS and Walgreens confirmed that it is limiting customers nationwide to three toddler and infant formulas per transaction. “We continue to work diligently with our supplier partners to best meet customer demands,” Walgreens said in a statement to CNN Business.

MORE: FDA warns about recalled baby formula amid investigation of 4 illnesses

A Target spokesperson confirmed that the retailer has limited baby formula purchases to four units per customer for online purchases. There is no limit on the number of units that can be bought in person in Target stores, the company said.

Customers shared images on social media of Walmart imposing similar constraints on its sales of baby formula, though Walmart did not confirm if it was a nationwide policy. Images shared with CNN Business show empty shelves where baby formula should be, and a sign saying only five units were allowed per customer.

Walmart did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNN Business.

The shortage has been exacerbated by the Food and Drug Administration’s shutdown of an Abbott Nutrition facility in Sturgis, Michigan. Abbott is a major producer of baby formula.

In February, the Food and Drug Administration recalled three brands of powdered baby formulas 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 powdered infant formulas, all Abbott brands.

A former employee of Abbott Nutrition filed a whistleblower complaint with the FDA months before the recall, documenting their concerns that the company was hiding safety problems at its Sturgis, Mich. plant. The formulas manufactured at the facility were recalled after four infants drinking it had fallen ill with rare infections caused by Cronobacter sakazakii bacteria. Two infants died, the complaint said.

The Abbott spokesperson noted that the recall affected only batches of formulas produced at and distributed from its Sturgis, Mich. facility, and said that no other products that Abbott distributes had so far tested positive for Salmonella or other pathogens.

Finding standard formula has become difficult for parents, many of whom described the extraordinary lengths they’ve gone to in order to score even a single can or bottle. Specialized formula is even harder to locate amid the widespread shortage. Parents are driving to neighboring states to try their luck, and many are pleading for help on social media, imploring strangers to share or even barter any extra supply they may have.

Abbott told CNN in a statement Saturday it is working closely with the FDA to resume operations in its Michigan plant.

“We continue to make progress on corrective actions and will be implementing additional actions as we work toward addressing items related to the recent recall. In the meantime, we are working to increase the supply of infant formula by prioritizing infant formula production at our facilities that provide product to the US market,” Abbott said in a statement to CNN Business.

The-CNN-Wire ™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

3.9k Share this
You May Also Like
Chicago First Alert Weather: Storms Wednesday

Chicago First Alert Weather: Storms Wednesday

Chicago First Alert Weather: Storms Wednesday – CBS Chicago Watch CBS News…
A kiss for the crowd! The Duke and Duchess shared a kiss on stage after Los Padres won the memorial cup yesterday

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle share a kiss at the polo

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle proved their still the king and queen…
Aurora Pride Parade organizers decide police officers may not participate in uniform; LGBTQ+ police liaison 'disappointed'

Aurora Pride Parade organizers decide police officers may not participate in uniform; LGBTQ+ police liaison ‘disappointed’

AURORA, Ill. (CBS) — Aurora will welcome its Pride Parade back…
This is the moment Bobi Gephart, 43, and her husband Nate (middle) confronted Pastor John B. Lowe II (left) on stage at the New Life Christian Church in Indiana on Sunday

Indiana woman forces married pastor to admit they had affair when she was 16 in front of church

A 65-year-old Indiana pastor has stepped down from his role in the…
At least 2 dead, multiple injured after "active shooter" reported at Texas school

At least 2 dead, multiple injured after “active shooter” reported at Texas school

At least two people were killed, a 66-year-old woman is in critical…
'Daddy came to the rescue!' Australian influencer Bella Varelis had to call her father for help after being 'scammed' by an ATM while on vacation in Italy. After losing all her holiday savings, her dad wired over some emergency funds, which allowed her to 'spoil herself' at a Dior store

Bella Varelis: Influencer calls father to pay for Dior splurge in Italy

Influencer’s holiday hell as she’s unable to shop at Dior after being…
Michigan Avenue hit-and-run: Missouri man hit by driver fleeing police stop, loses both legs

Michigan Avenue hit-and-run: Missouri man hit by driver fleeing police stop, loses both legs

CHICAGO (WLS) — A Missouri man was seriously injured by a hit-and-run…
3 teens shot this weekend

3 teens shot this weekend

3 teens shot this weekend – CBS Chicago Watch CBS News At…