Less than two months after a baby formula recallretailers report shortages and some stores are rationing sales.
Nearly 30% of popular baby formula brands may be out of stock at US retailers. data assemblywhich evaluated supplies at more than 11,000 stores.
That’s a level higher than other products, said Ben Reich, CEO of the Tysons, Virginia-based research firm.
“Inflation, supply chain shortages and product recalls have brought unprecedented volatility to the category, and we expect to continue to see infant formula as one of the hardest hit categories in the market,” he said.
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Scarcity comes later Abbott Nutrition voluntarily withdrew from the market in mid-February select lots of Similac, Alimentum and EleCare formulas manufactured in Sturgis, Michigan. The recall was extended to the end of February. include a batch of Similac PM 60/40.
The Food and Drug Administration said two weeks ago that the manufacturer of the formula did not maintain sanitary conditions and procedures in that plant.
Limited baby formula supplies
But formula supplies were limited before withdrawal.
Krishnakumar Davey, president of strategic analysis at IRI, said The Wall Street Journal that formula shortages are intermittent and vary by retailer and location. Davey said some of the 10 largest retailers in the country were more than 20% out of baby formula the week ending Jan. 2.
“Product supply challenges are currently affecting most of the retail industry,” CVS Health, which owns the pharmacy chain, said in a statement to USA TODAY. “We continue to work with our national brand infant formula suppliers to address this issue and regret any inconvenience our customers may be experiencing.”
Walgreens is limiting shoppers to three infant and toddler formula 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 toddler formulas are experiencing restrictions across the country,” the statement said.
Nearly 75% of babies receive some formula by 6 months, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
‘I work full time trying to find Similac’
After visiting three different stores in one day, Elyssa Schmier, vice president of government relations for the advocacy group MomsRising“I suddenly realized that my formula was nowhere to be found… It’s almost a full-time job trying to find Similac.”
After experiencing firsthand the shortages across the country, Schmier organized a Instagram live discussion Friday with Brian Dittmeier, senior director of public policy at the National WIC Association.
Manufacturers “are tuned in to this and we understand that in general people are ramping up production,” Dittmeier said.
“Now, it’s not like flipping a switch,” he said. “We’ll probably still see shortages in the next couple of weeks. But our hope is that as production ramps up, later this spring it will be easier for families across the country.”
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Increased formula stockout rates
Datasembly’s analysis found that for the first seven months of 2021, infant formula supplies were “relatively stable” with supplies depleted between 2 and 8%. But in the months since, it continued to get worse, Reich said, as stock-out rates climbed into double digits, reaching 23% at the end of January.
The stock-out situation began to affect infant formula in July 2021, ranging from 2-8%, and has continued to worsen through 2022.
Among the states hardest hit by infant formula shortages, according to Datasembly: Minnesota had the highest percentage out of stock for the week of March 13 at 54%, followed by Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Texas, all at 40% or more.
Cities with the highest stock-out 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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Collaboration: Kelly Tyko, USA TODAY
Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @mikesnider.