Michigan plant to restart production of baby formula – is the shortage easing?

Source: Hot Air

Yes, believe it or not, there is still a shortage of baby formula in the United States of America. One piece of good news came on Friday when Abbott Laboratories announced it is restarting production of its Similac baby formula. It will likely be six weeks before shipments to retail stores begin but at least it is some hopeful news for stressed-out parents.

What was unimaginable before last February turned into a nightmarish reality for parents of babies. Abbott’s infant formula production facility in Sturgis, Michigan was at the center of an outbreak of bacterial contamination in formula which caused the plant to close. for whatever reasons, the Biden administration was caught flatfooted and moved slowly to do what they could to help fix the problem. Some parents were sounding the alarm of shortages in stores at the end of 2021 and by February there was no denying empty store shelves. Joe Biden signed H.R.8351, known as the Formula Act, in late July. It allows baby formula to be imported through December 31, 2022 duty-free. The administration was slow to begin importing formula from European manufacturing plants and even from Mexico.

Earlier this summer, Abbott’s facility in Sturgis restarted production of some specialty formulas but not Similac. Similac is the most popular baby formula brand chosen by hospitals. Now Similac is back in production.

“We know that the nationwide infant formula shortage has been difficult for the families we serve, and while restarting Similac production in Michigan is an important milestone, we won’t rest until this product is back on shelves,” Abbott Chairman and CEO Robert B. Ford said in a statement Friday.

The factory shutdown in February followed a voluntary recall of formula under a Food and Drug Administration advisement urging consumers not to use specific batches of Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare made at the Sturgis plant.

The voluntary recall and shutdown resulted in a nationwide formula shortage that left parents and caregivers scrambling. The shortage came amid a pandemic supply chain disruption that slowed the flow of goods to retailers.

The ineptness of the Biden administration to deal with this shortage has been breathtaking. Biden finally invoked the Defense Production Act to prioritize formula manufacturing and allowed use of military aircraft to fly baby formula from overseas. Unfortunately, the shipments of formula are not enough to reach all parents who are searching for formula for their babies. So, the shortage continues in many places.

One problem is the small number of manufacturers of baby formula in our country.

Abbott is the biggest supplier of infant formula in the U.S.

Abbott Mead Johnson Nutrition — owned by Reckitt — Perrigo and Nestlé USA are the four major players in the baby-formula market in the U.S.

The formula shortage is easing in some places but not all. Last week there were 25% more baby-formula products available nationwide compared to the peak of the shortage in late May.

The national average out-of-stock rates in stores and online stood at 61%, down from a peak of 86% for the week of May 29. Datasembly tracked 130,000 stores across North America.

“We are definitely seeing a positive trend in the availability of infant formula across the nation,” Ben Reich, Datasembly founder and CEO, said in a statement.

Still, some states and cities have persistently high out-of-stock rates: 77% of baby-formula products were out of stock in Alaska and Delaware as of Monday; 75% and 71% were out of stock in Washington, D.C., and Maryland, respectively. Seattle and Oahu are experiencing out-of-stock rates above 78%.

Foreign products entering the market have helped stock store shelves. Abbott has been importing formula from their overseas manufacturing facilities approved by the Food and Drug administration. Abbott is using their facilities in Granada, Spain and Ireland to ease the shortage. Other facilities are running at full capacity.

Remember when Joe Biden ran for president and assured voters that the grown-ups would be back in charge? He pledged to bring in professional, experienced people who know how to make the government run. It turned out to be election year promises. This administration is unable to handle any problem before it goes into a crisis situation. Biden’s cabinet dropped the ball in this case and they seemed to be unaware of a baby formula shortage in the country for months. They didn’t even tell Biden about it for months. In Biden’s America, parents scramble for the most basic of necessities for their babies. It’s unacceptable.