- Major strides are being taken to alleviate the formula shortage and ensure rapid restocking, with considerable amounts of formula being dispatched to hospitals, retailers, and WIC families nationwide.
- Notable figures like First Lady Jill Biden and US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy are overseeing the efforts to increase the availability of infant formula.
- Abbott Nutrition, a significant formula manufacturer, is taking corrective measures to mitigate the effects of the shortage, including enhancing the supply chain, increasing production, and distributing formula free to program participants.
- In a boosted production plan, companies like Mead Johnson Nutrition are significantly increasing their production output, all while maintaining a focus on quality and safety.
- Efforts to ease the situation caused by the formula shortage include the U.S. government allowing for increased flexibility in product sources, signing the Access to Baby Formula Act into law, and permitting overseas companies like Kendal Nutricare to import baby formula into the U.S.
Alleviating the concerns of U.S. parents and caregivers who require formula for their little ones, major strides are being taken to ensure that the formula will soon return to store shelves.
Operation Fly Formula in Action
As part of recent restocking efforts, approximately 60 tons of formula, hypoallergenic Gerber Good Start Extensive HA, landed at Dulles International Airport. This formula is headed for a distribution center in Pennsylvania before being dispatched to hospitals, WIC families, retailers nationwide.
Aiding in Restocking
Ensuring the smooth progress of these operations, key figures including First Lady Jill Biden and US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, and other dignitaries oversaw the arrival of the formula at the airport.
Emphasizing the gravity of the situation, First lady Biden expressed her solidarity saying, “I’ve been heartbroken to hear the stories of parents searching for formula…There is more to do. We know that.”
Additional Supply Expected
Further boosting the formula availability, subsequent shipments from overseas entities are anticipated, as confirmed by US Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra.
Addressing the Shortage
Abbott Nutrition, a key formula manufacturer, faced scrutiny for its role in the nationwide shortage, a situation worsened by the closure of one of their plants. Chris Calamari, head of Abbott’s nutrition division, expressed his profound regret at a recent committee hearing.
Relief seems near as Abbott Nutrition initiates production at its Sturgis, Michigan, plant and is expected to have the product available in stores by mid-June.
According to Calamari, the company plans to enhance the supply chain by airlifting formula on nearly 50 flights per week across the nation. In collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture WIC agencies, they will also distribute formula free to program participants.
“By the end of June, we expect we will be supplying more formula…than we were in January, before the recall,” stated Calamari.
Boost in Production
Key players like Mead Johnson Nutrition, a subsidiary of Reckitt, is also stepping in by increasing its production output by over 30% in comparison to last year.
“We’re taking all of these measures while keeping a close eye on quality and safety…” assured Robert Cleveland, company Senior Vice President.
Gerber’s representative Scott Fitz also confirmed their commitment to maintain high safety standards while working tirelessly to meet the acute demand.
Addressing the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children
In a typical scenario, state agencies have contracts with one of the three main baby formula manufacturers, and the people in the program can only purchase from them.
Moving to a flexible approach to ease the situation, the USDA has temporarily covered the costs of alternative brands and sizes.
Around half of the U.S. formula is intended for infants in the WIC program. The flexibility to add new brands has significantly broadened the options available to them.
Support from the Top
Adding impetus to this approach, President Biden signed the Access to Baby Formula Act into law, allowing for increased availability.
“We encourage states and their formula manufacturers to work together to maximize access to infant formula for WIC participants, and USDA will provide the funding to make that possible,” stated Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
Increasing Product Availability
In another initiative, the FDA has permitted Britain-based Kendal Nutricare to import baby formula into the U.S.
“This has exposed a weakness in our essential supply line, and that needs to be remedied quickly,” opined Brian Dittmeier, senior director of public policy with the nonprofit National WIC Association.