Manufacturer leaders predict baby formula will remain scarce despite recent efforts by the Biden administration.
Abbott Laboratories, the manufacturer of Similac – the baby formula brand with the largest sales in the US, has resumed production since June 4 at the factory in Sturgis, Michigan. The factory has been shut down since February. Previously, Abbott’s factory produced about one-fifth of the infant formula in the United States.
However, at the beginning of its re-operation, the factory in Sturgis only produced special formulas for children. children with severe allergies or other medical problems… A source at WSJ said that after June 20, Abbott will produce conventional milk like Similac and deliver it to stores a few weeks later.
As of last week, about 20-25% of formula products were still in stock in US stores, according to market research firm IRI. Milk shortages are worse in several states, including rural areas in Kansas, Minnesota, Texas, Utah and Alaska.
“We are yet to see any recovery,” said Arthur Acrum, vice president of sales and purchasing at retailer Roche Bros.
Roche Bros has been facing a shortage of baby formula since February. According to Acrum, the retail chain receives only a fraction of the quantity it orders. Roche suppliers have not yet determined when supplies will improve.
In recent weeks, the Biden administration has attempted to address the infant formula shortage by importing hypoallergenic varieties from other countries. The White House said shipments of baby formula from two manufacturers in the UK and Australia will arrive in the US on June 9. In mid-May, the White House had to launch an operation “Airlift milk powder” when the US military chartered commercial aircraft to bring powdered milk home to reduce shortages.
In Georgia, Savannah Grider said she couldn’t find formula for her 10-month-old daughter. Three weeks ago, a friend in North Dakota started sending Grider milk because the formula was still stored at the military base where her friend lived. Grider said it is important to limit how often your baby drinks milk and try to add complementary foods, because he has problems with other types of milk.
Some retailers have seen positive signs, such as Giant Eagle, a Pennsylvania-based supermarket chain that said the stress has eased with some products. Meanwhile, Iowa-based Hy-Vee is expected to have more dairy varieties in the coming weeks, including Gerber and Enfamil. Hy-Vee received several shipments of Similac milk last weekend and will have more coming later this week.
However, Kroger, the largest US supermarket chain by sales, said the supply of formula has not improved significantly. This business is still having to limit each customer to only 4 boxes of milk.
David Smith, CEO of the US’s largest wholesaler association – Associated Wholesale Grocers, said that formula supply has seen little change in recent weeks despite the US importing more products from Europe.
Previously, the Roche Bros chain delivered milk daily, but now only once a week. According to Acrum, consumers’ hoarding of milk made matters worse earlier this year. Currently, Roche stores do not have enough products for shoppers to stock up on milk, but Acrum is still concerned that panic buying may recur as supplies improve.
On June 1, US President Joe Biden said at a meeting to tackle the milk powder crisis at the White House that no one had foreseen the impact of the closure of the production facility. “When we learned how serious the milk shortage was, it was over,” Biden said.
Abbott’s factory in Michigan has been closed since February because of concerns about bacterial infection due to 4 children being poisoned, of which two died, after using products from this factory. This incident combined with the supply disruption due to Covid-19, the tension in Ukraine created the milk powder crisis in the US since early May.
Tu Anh (according to WSJ)