On Monday, the administration of President Joe Biden announced the launch of its 17th Operation Fly Formula mission, as marketing data indicates a worsening scarcity of infant formula.
Two aircraft have been scheduled by the administration to bring Nestlé Health Science amino acid-based formula to John F. Kennedy Airport in New York on July 21 and 22.
The equivalent of 802,446 8-ounce bottles of infant formula will be delivered in this shipment; hospitals and home health care providers will receive the majority of it.
However, despite the administration’s announcement of a flurry of flights, American retailers are still having trouble keeping baby formula stocked on their shelves.
According to market research firm IRI, the availability of formula fell to its lowest point so far this year, with roughly 30% of items being out of stock for the week ending July 3.
According to a White House representative who spoke to DailyMail, “retailer stocks are rebuilding to some extent.”
Even though it was still early, the official stated that the data “indicate improvement.” So far, increased year-to-date total sales compared to last year imply that families are obtaining access.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre defended the administration’s actions on Monday, saying the administration was working to increase domestic production but remained focused on safety issues.
‘The federal government has worked in lockstep with the private sector to ramp up domestic production and to increase the supply,’ she said at her daily press briefing.
‘We’re ramping up for domestic production,’ she noted. She pointed to the increased imports of foreign forumla and waivers for federal rules tied to the low income food supplemental funds.
‘We’re going to do everything that we can to increase production. But again, we want to make sure that the safety is first priority,’ she said.
This results in a stock rate for that week of 70%, which is lower than the stock rate of 77% for the week before.
More than 125,000 retailers in the United States are tracked by IRI for product inventory. Prior to the February recall and Abbott Laboratories production closure, which caused the shortage, rates were roughly 90%.
Operation Fly Formula was started by President Biden “to expedite the import of infant formula and start getting additional formula into shops as quickly as feasible,” according to the White House.
The administration stated that by July 24, Operation Fly Formula will have delivered more than 61 million 8-ounce bottle equivalents to the United States.
However, that is far from being sufficient.
U.S. consumers usually buy enough powdered formula to make about 65 million 8-ounce bottles a week.
The hardest hit states, with inventory levels below 60%, include Utah, Wyoming, Kansas and Colorado.
Alaska has the biggest shortfall, with an in-stock rate at 51%. The state with the best supply situation is New York at 81%.
Parents are also finding fewer choices of brands, sizes or formats of formula on grocery-store shelves as the shortage continues.
U.S. supermarkets over the four weeks ended June 26 sold an average of 11 different formula products per store weekly, according to IRI data shared with the Wall Street Journal, compared with a weekly average of 24 from 2018 to 2021.
‘We are months — months — away from an end to these shortages,’ a source on a recent FDA call about the issue told Politico last week.
The factory, which previously produced around one-fifth of the nation’s infant formula, is a significant provider of speciality formulae essential to the survival of infants with specific requirements.
Early in June, it resumed operations, but was forced to halt them after a section of the complex was flooded by severe storms less than two weeks later.
It began operating again on July 1 and is now concentrating on making the specialized formula Elecare, which is designed for infants with digestive problems.
The administration took a while to respond to the scarcity, but once it did, it sought to increase domestic production and bring in foreign brands to alleviate it.
The Defense Manufacturing Act was invoked by the president in May, obliging suppliers to put the production of baby formula ahead of all other contracts.
The majority of baby formula—nearly 98 percent—is produced locally. About 90% of the market is made up of four companies: Abbott, Reckitt, Nestle, and Perrigo.