A nationwide shortage of infant formula caused by pandemic-related supply chain issues has forced U.S. retailers such as Walgreens to ration the most important product.
The company – the second-largest drugstore chain in the United States behind CVS – said on Friday that amid the supply chain crisis, it was limiting customers to three purchases of infant and toddler formula at at the same time, in its 9,021 locations in the United States.
A company spokesperson told DailyMail.com that the restrictions, already in effect, stem from “increased demand and various supplier issues”, as it was revealed that 29% of all top-selling formulas are out of stock in stores across the country.
The shortage of the product, which about three-quarters of infants in the United States receive at some point in their first six months, has parents panicking.
“I would normally buy four to six cans at a time to get us through the month and should limit that to two,” Samantha Modely, from Memphis, told the local outlet. WREG-TV Thusday.
A nationwide shortage of infant formula caused by pandemic-related supply chain issues has forced U.S. retailers such as Walgreens to ration the most important product. Pictured is a shelf of sterile formula at a big box store in January. The shortage has since worsened to crisis levels
The shortage of the product, which about three-quarters of infants in the United States receive at some point in their first six months, has parents across the country panicked.
“My friend is about to have a baby in August, and I can’t imagine worrying about whether you’ll be able to go to the local grocery store and pick up what you need,” the mother said.
“We noticed it was hard to find maybe a few months ago – two, three months ago – and then just recently we can’t find it,” said Irene Anhoeck, a resident of San Francisco. CBS News of the shortage, which has affected stores across the country.
“We tried all the local targets. We checked Costco, Costco Online, Walgreens, Long’s,” Anhoeck said. ‘I can’t find it anywhere.’
The shortage is blamed on pandemic-related supply chain issues – which have resulted in a backlog of billions of dollars worth of toys, clothes, electronics, vehicles and furniture over the past year – as well than the weather-related delivery disruptions seen in the Deep South last month.
A recent recall also compounded the problem in February, when Abbott, one of the top four US formula makers, recalled a number of its products, including the popular Similac. Pictured is a Similac listing currently out of stock on Amazon
A recent recall also compounded the problem in February, when Abbott, one of the top four US formula makers, recalled a number of its products, including its preeminent Similac formulas.
The recall – which involved products that had been manufactured at its plant in Sturgis, Michigan – was spurred by possible contamination with Cronobacter sakazakii, a bacteria that could prove fatal to infants, the company said at the time.
Now, nearly two months later, the product is increasingly out of stock at retailers – big and small – across the country.
An analysis by Datasembly, a company that tracks billions of grocery and retail price records for stores in all 50 states, tracked infant formula inventory at more than 11,000 stores and found that 29% of top-selling infant formula products were out of stock as of the week of March 13.
A recent study that tracked baby formula inventory at more than 11,000 stores found that 29% of top-selling baby formulas, including Enfamil (pictured), were out of stock the week of March 13
Marked increase is up 11 percent of November, when the supply chain crisis was at its height, due to historically high demand for consumer goods during the pandemic, when an influx of Americans have chosen to stay home instead of spending money on travel and entertainment.
Other issues contributing to the bottleneck on the U.S. overseas supply line, including labor shortages at U.S. ports and restrictions related to the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak and 2021. These constraints, which included social distancing and mandatory quarantines, have severely limited the number and capacity of port workers, and thus impeded the flow of products, including infant formula, to the United States.
Other supply chain issues driving formula shortages include increased difficulty in sourcing key ingredients, as well as packaging delays and labor shortages.
A list of Enfamil formulas sold out on Amazon on April 8. The shortage is blamed on pandemic-related supply chain issues
A list of Gerber formulas out of stock on Amazon on April 8
“That’s a shocking number that you don’t see for other categories,” Ben Reich, CEO of Datasembly, told CBS of the study’s findings, which he says are likely to get worse.
“We’ve tracked it over time and it’s increasing dramatically. We see that this category is affected by economic conditions more dramatically than others,” Reich said.
The retail tracker’s survey further revealed that in 24 US states, 30% of all formulas were out of stock as of mid-March, while other states were experiencing even worse shortages.
In Minnesota, for example, 54% of infant formula was out of stock.
Several states also experienced shortages of more than 40%, the study found, including Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, North and South Dakota, Rhode Island and Texas.
For reference, in the first seven months of 2021, only 2-8% of infant formula was out of stock.
The US Deep and Mid-South has also been hit hard by formula shortages – made worse by a host of storm systems that have ravaged states like Georgia, Mississippi and North and South Carolina in recent weeks – with shelves formerly stocked with the product now sterile.
More than two years into the pandemic, the product is increasingly out of stock at retailers — big and small — across the country. Pictured is an empty formula shelf in January
A spokesperson for CVS Health, the number one pharmacy in the United States with 9,874 locations nationwide, was forced in February to acknowledge the shortage, saying “product supply issues currently affect most of the retail industry”.
The company went on to say that it is working with “national brand infant formula suppliers to resolve this issue and we regret any inconvenience our customers may experience.”
In January, Enfamil, one of the nation’s largest infant formula brands, said it was grappling with an unprecedented 18% increase in demand for infant formula in the United States.
“We have taken steps to increase production and are currently shipping 50% more product, to resolve issues as quickly as possible,” a spokesperson for Reckitt, the maker of Enfamil, said in a statement to the company. ‘era.
The Infant Nutrition Council of America recently assured parents in a statement on its website that manufacturers are ramping up production to meet families’ needs. The advice also encourages parents to keep a 10-day to two-week supply or formula at home, while urging them not to stockpile products.