The baby formula supply problem is not getting better. In fact, it is getting worse. Manufacturers claim production is at full capacity, but it still is not meeting the current demand.
In the first half of 2021, the out-of-stock rate for baby formula sat between two and eight percent. However, the rate skyrocketed between November 2021 and early April of this year to 31 percent. CNN Business reports that the number is currently up to 40 percent.
According to Datasembly, over half of baby formula was completely sold out in Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Missouri and Texas during the week starting April 24. The data also said 26 states are struggling with supply.
Datasembly CEO Ben Reich said the issue has been compounded by product recalls, supply chain issues and historic inflation. Reich added Datasembly expects baby formula to be one of the most affected products in the market.
Many stores, including CVS, Target, Walmart and Walgreens, are reportedly limiting the number of infant formulas customers can buy per transaction.
Regarding the recalls, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, in February, recalled three brands of powdered baby formulas made by Abbott Nutrition. The recalls were due to potential bacterial infections, including Salmonella.
A former employee of Abbott filed a whistleblower complaint prior to the recall and documented concerns of the company hiding safety problems at a plant in Sturgis, Michigan.
Abbott recalled the formulas manufactured at the facility after four infants drinking it became ill with rare infections. The complaint said two of the infants died. However, no Salmonella was found at the facility during an investigation, according to an Abbott spokesperson.
Abbott is currently working with the FDA to resume operations at the plant.