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Data indicates baby formula shortage is easing, but not going away

Baby Formula Shortage
Posted at 2:29 PM, Aug 02, 2022

Finding baby formula in stock is likely easier for most Americans than it was earlier in the summer, but that isn't to say it is easy for all.

Data shared by Information Resources Incorporated with CNN indicated that 20% of formula brands were out of stock for the week ending July 24. Powdered formula had an out-of-stock rate of 30% for the week.

Initially, officials blamed supply chain issues and a recall that shuttered an Abbott plant in Michigan. Production resumed at that plant in early July.

Officials said it would take up to eight weeks for the formula produced there to reach store shelves.

The federal government has also arranged at least 17 flights to ship formula from overseas to the US.

FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said on NPR's "All Things Considered" that the shortages could start further ease. He said that companies were producing too many different types of products, leading to inefficiencies.

"So what we need is just to continue for the next six to eight weeks for the production to far outstrip the amount that people need for their babies," he said. "And then we'll be back in good shape with regard to volume of formula. But to keep this from happening again, we need to change something else, and that's to diversify the production so that it's more resilient so that if there is a problem in one place, it doesn't create a situation like this again."

While some parents are having an easier time finding formula, finding specialty formula remains challenging.

"Some parents deal with infants who can't tolerate normal formula, standard formula," Califf told NPR. "And they're - the shelves are most - having the most difficulty with the specialty formula. But I want to let people know that, you know, this is mostly because the largest maker of specialty formula was that plant in Michigan, which is now up and running again."