2022 baby formula shortage worsens after Abbott Similac recall


Less than two months after a Baby food recallRetailers report shortages as some stores ration sales.

Nearly 30% of popular baby food brands are sold out at retailers in the US, according to an analysis by data collectionwhich rated deliveries in more than 11,000 stores.

That’s a higher level than other products, said Ben Reich, CEO of the Tysons, Virginia-based research firm.

“Inflation, supply chain shortages and product recalls have brought unprecedented levels of volatility to the category and we expect baby food to continue to be one of the hardest hit categories in the market,” he said.

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The shortage comes after that Abbott Nutrition was voluntarily recalled in mid-February select lots of Similac, Alimentum and EleCare formulas manufactured in Sturgis, Michigan. The recall was expanded at the end of February contain a batch of Similac PM 60/40.

That Food and drug management said two weeks ago that the formula maker had failed to maintain sanitation conditions and procedures at that plant.

Baby food supplies are limited

but Formula supplies were limited before the callback.

Krishnakumar Davey, President of Strategic Analytics at IRI, said The Wall Street Journal that formulation shortages are intermittent and vary by retailer and location. Davey said some of the country’s top 10 retailers had sold out more than 20% of baby formula in the week ended Jan. 2.

“Product supply challenges are affecting most of the retail industry right now,” CVS Health, which owns the pharmacy chain, said in a statement to USA TODAY. “We continue to work with our national baby food suppliers to address this issue and we regret any inconvenience this may cause our customers.”

Walgreens is limiting shoppers to three infant and toddler nutrition products per transaction “to help improve inventory,” the company said in a statement to USA TODAY. “Due to increased demand and various supplier issues, infant and young child foods are restricted across the country,” the statement said.

Almost 75% of infants are receiving some formula by the 6 month mark Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Don't expect to find shelves full of baby food for several months.

“Full-time job looking for Similac”

After visiting three different stores in one day, Elyssa Schmier, the advocacy group’s vice president of government relations, said MomsRising“I suddenly realized that my formula was nowhere to be found. … It’s almost a full-time job to find Similac.”

After experiencing the nationwide shortage first-hand, Schmier organized one Instagram Live Discussion Friday with Brian Dittmeier, Senior Director of Public Policy for the National WIC Association.

The manufacturers “are prepared for this and we understand that people are ramping up production across the board,” said Dittmeier.

“Well, it’s not like flipping a switch,” he said. “We will likely continue to see bottlenecks over the next few weeks. But we hope that as production ramps up later this spring, it should be easier for families across the country.”

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Formula out-of-stock rates are increasing

Datasembly’s analysis found that baby food shipments were “relatively stable” in the first seven months of 2021, with shortages of between 2% and 8%. But it has continued to deteriorate in subsequent months, Reich said, as the out-of-stock rate rose into double digits, hitting 23% in late January.

The out-of-stock situation began affecting baby formula in July 2021, fluctuating between 2% and 8% and has continued to worsen into 2022.

Among the states hardest hit by baby food shortages, according to Datasembly: Minnesota had Rhode Island, South Dakota and Texas all at 40% or more in the week of March 13.

Cities with the highest out-of-stock rates: San Antonio (56%), Minneapolis (55%), and Des Moines (50%) for the week of March 13. Houston, New Orleans and Oahu were above 45%.

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Contributor: Kelly Tyko, USA TODAY

Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @mikesnider.


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