Retailers nationwide are reporting widespread shortages of baby formula, with some high-profile chains rationing limited supplies, multiple media outlets reported.
Roughly three-quarters of all U.S. infants consume baby formula within their first six months, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Tysons, Virginia-based research firm analyzed formula supplies at more than 11,000 stores and found the shortage to be more profound than those reported among other products.
“Inflation, supply chain shortages and product recalls have brought an unprecedented amount of volatility to the category, and we expect to continue to see baby formula as one of the most affected categories in the market,” Datassembly CEO Ben Reich told the newspaper.
The shortage comes two months after Abbott Nutrition voluntarily recalled select batches of Similac, Alimentum and EleCare formulas in mid-February that were manufactured in Sturgis, Michigan. That recall was expanded two weeks later to include one lot of Similac PM 60/40.
Meanwhile, formula supplies are “so constrained” that retailers such as Walgreens are limiting customers to three infant and toddler formula products per transaction, a spokesperson for the pharmacy chain behemoth told CBS News, citing “increased demand and various supplier issues.”
According to the network, the formula recalls only compounded a supply chain already disrupted by COVID-19-related snarls that include, but are not limited to, labor shortages, packaging issues and increased difficulty procuring key ingredients.
“Product supply challenges are currently impacting most of the retail industry,” CVS Health said in a prepared statement obtained by USA Today. “We’re continuing to work with our national brand baby formula vendors to address this issue and we regret any inconvenience that our customers may be experiencing.”
According to Datasembly’s analysis, baby formula supplies remained “relatively stable” throughout the first seven months of 2021, when out-of-stock supplies hovered between 2% and 8%. However, that figure increased to 23% by the close of January 2022, Reich told the newspaper.
The analysis also revealed the following:
- Twenty-four states reported an out-of-stock percentage on formula of at least 30% by mid-March.
- Minnesota had the highest out-of-stock percentage for the week of March 13 at 54%.
- Nine other states – including Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Texas – reported out-of-stock percentages of 40% or higher for the same time frame.
- Among cities, San Antonio reported the highest out-of-stock rate for the week of March 13 at 56%, followed by Minneapolis with 55% and Des Moines with 50%.
- Houston, New Orleans and Oahu each reported out-of-stock percentages above 45% for the same week.
Meanwhile, the Infant Nutrition Council of America recently assured parents in a statement on its website that manufacturers are increasing production to meet families’ needs. The council also encouraged parents to keep a 10-day to two-week supply of formula on hand, while urging them not to stockpile products, CBS News reported.
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