The supply chain shortages have caused bare shelves throughout the nation. Most of us remember the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, searching for household cleansers and hand gel. Although low cleaning supplies are aggravating, the new shortage could be serious for the most innocent among us. The U.S. is facing a severe lack of baby formula.
The shortages started in 2021 when the supply chain struggled to deliver supplies to the stores on time. The deficit in 2021 averaged around 2-8%. In November, the shortage rose to 11%, causing concern for suppliers. (Once the formula shortage increases above 10 percent, it is considered problematic.) The pandemic, trucking problems, staffing problems, and the lack of materials were to blame.
Heading into 2022, things turned for the worse. In February,, Abbott Labs, the manufacturer of several types of formula, issued a recall of formulas under the labels of Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare. The recall was due to bacteria contamination at a Michigan manufacturing plant.. Once the recall was issued, many parents had to change to other brands such as Enfamil. The shortages increased dramatically due to the recall and parents changing their brands. The out-of-stock rate rose to 30 percent. In some states, such as Minnesota, there is a a 54 percent shortage.
Parents have been panicking as they face empty shelves. Many parents say that they are going to multiple stores and searching the internet to find the supplies they need for their babies. The lack of supply is not the only concern. When parents find the formula, it now costs 18 percent more than last year as inflation continues to plague the country.
What does the Biden administration plan to do to alleviate the supply chain problems? Thus far, no one has adequately answered this question. The incompetence of this administration has placed our infants’ well-being at risk. Formula manufacturers say they are increasing production to keep up with the demand. Regardless of the increased production, it may be 4 to 6 weeks before the shortage improves.
Parents may be asking what they should do in the face of this crisis. Experts agree the first thing is to avoid panicking. (Parents may be tempted to stockpile formula; however, this would worsen the supply shortage.) Next, call your pediatrician. You may be able to switch brands. Physicians also say that you should not water down formula or use homemade formula. They also suggest not purchasing breastmilk from untrusted sources. There are milk banks for breastmilk that are strictly monitored and tested, which may be a potential source for some parents.
If parents find themselves without formula, experts recommend calling food banks, charities, your local WIC office, or dial 211, which will connect you with various sources.
If you are concerned that you may have some of the formula that was recalled, you can check the list of recalled items at the Illinois Department of Human Services web site:
Take ACTION: Please consider calling your US representatives and asking what they intend to do about the supply chain shortages, including the current lack of baby formula. If you are able, consider donating to your local crisis pregnancy center to help them provide necessary supplies to mothers in need.