The shortage of infant formula has intensified in recent weeks with at least 12 states facing stock-out rates of 40% or more as parents desperately seek to get their hands on infant formula in the face of prices abusive.
The formula shortage, which began during Covid, worsened further following a February recall by Abbott Labs of Alimentum, Similac and EleCare formulas after five infants using the formula contracted an infection to Cronobacter sakazakii. One of the infants died.
Since then, national stock-out levels jumped nine percentage points from 31% to 40% between April 3 and April 24, according to analysis by Datasembly, which tracked infant formula stock at more than 11,000 retailers.
In in the week ending April 24, CBS News reports, 40 to 50 percent of top-selling infant formulas were out of stock in stores across the country, Datasembly reported.
For the week of April 3, at least 12 states faced stock-out rates above 40%, including Connecticut, Delaware, Montana, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Washington, Datasembly reported.
During the same period, Iowa, South Dakota and North Dakota experienced a 50-51% shortage, Missouri a 52% shortage, Texas 53% and Tennessee a whopping 54% shortage. %.
For the week of April 3, at least 12 states faced stock-out rates above 40%, including Connecticut, Delaware, Montana, New Jersey, Rhode Island.
MASSACHUSETTS: National stockout levels, meanwhile, jumped nine percentage points from 31% to 40% between April 3 and April 24
INDIANA: Some national retailers now limit how much formula each customer can buy at one time
Meanwhile, 12 major metropolitan areas are facing stock-out rates above 40%, including Baltimore, Charlotte, Des Moines, Greenville, Hartford-New Haven, Houston, Minneapolis, Nashville, New Orleans Mobile, Oahu, San Antonio and Seattle.
Three metro areas had stock-out rates of 50% and above, including Des Moines with a 50% shortage, Minneapolis with a 55% shortage, and San Antonio with 56%.
The shortage has led people to sell on-demand formulas for higher prices and parents have taken to social media to share their disgust at the scammers.
On Facebook, Laurie Elaine from Delaware shared a photo of the Good Start formula which usually sells for $18.49 for a 12.4 ounce that can be sold for $50 each on Facebook Market.
“People like that make me completely sick!” she wrote. ‘60.80 for a box of formula for a baby is three times what formula costs! I even asked if it was for a box and she said yes There is a real shortage of formula, people worry about how they are going to feed their baby and people do that? It’s disgusting on so many levels!
In another Facebook post, Alyssa Delos Santos posted a photo of the Similac formula selling for $25 plus $10.99 shipping when comments say it usually sells for just $10.
“I think it’s sad that people are pricing in formula that parents desperately need. This reminder made parents so difficult,” Delos Santos wrote. ‘Be moms aware.’
In Virginia, Jill Bradford, adoptive mother of a 5-month-old baby girl with medical needs, said she found eight cans of the formula the child needs on eBay, but it’s sold for $800. Cans usually cost between $43 and $47.
On Facebook, Laurie Elaine from Delaware shared a photo of the Good Start formula which usually sells for $18.49 for 12.4 ounces and can be sold for $50 each on Facebook Market.
In a Facebook post, Alyssa Delos Santos posted a photo of the Similac formula selling for $25 plus $10.99 shipping when comments say it usually sells for just $10.
On eBay, a box of Enfamil Gentlease infant formula for irritability, gas and crying was selling for over $40
To preserve inventory, national retailers like Walgreens and CVS are now limiting customers to just three baby formulas per purchase, and on Target.com consumers can only purchase up to four pieces of a given infant formula. at once – leaving parents scrambling as nearly three-quarters of babies in the US take formula during their first six months.
The situation is even worse for those whose children receive a specific formula either because they have allergies or because of their nutritional needs.
Ashleigh Olsen, also from Jacksonville, Florida, said her 9-month-old is restricted to a specific formula that she orders directly from the manufacturer because her son may face an allergic reaction to others. But we don’t know when it will be available again.
“Fortunately, I filled up last time. So today when I opened my last box, it lit my fire a bit,’ Olsen said.
And in the Midwest, Kassidi Hillard, who has a 2-month-old who needs Similac Pro-Advance, told the WDRB that she’s “looked at all the stores in Indiana and here (in Kentucky) and didn’t had not found his formula in any shop.
“It’s a little stressful because if you can’t find a formula, it’s like they can’t eat anything else,” Hillard said. “They can’t have baby food, they can’t have hard food, they can’t have what we eat, so it’s really, it’s not an easy thing to live with.”
In Texas, Emily Pyeatt, 22, wrote on Facebook that she recently visited eight stores looking for formula for her 8-month-old baby.
“This is the scariest thing I have ever experienced,” she wrote on March 30. “How are we supposed to feed our children when there is NO FORMULA ON THE SHELVES?”
She later told the Washington Post that when she was down to her last three cans, she got her son to eat more solid foods because she wasn’t producing enough milk to breastfeed.
“It was a very heartbreaking decision to quit, and I think it’s heartbreaking for someone to say that,” Pyeatt said, adding, “I pray for women who have babies who aren’t enough. old to eat solid food.”
Danielle Arzola, 27, also from Texas, told the Post that when she tried to switch brands of formula, her 6-month-old child fell ill and she now has to drive all over town to find the brand. what she needs. She even resorted to buying infant formula from people in other states.
The company announced in March that it had did not find any Cronobacter sakazakii in the samples of the formula he sends and tests regularly.
But he said he found evidence of the bacteria in a “non-product contact area” at its factory in Sturgis, Michigan.
Now infant formula producers are scrambling to restart production.
“We know this recall has further exacerbated an industry-wide instant formula supply shortage,” Abbott Labs told The Washington Post in a statement.
“We’re doing everything we can to address this,” the company said, including ramping up production of Similac, airlifting products from Europe and working with healthcare providers to identify possible causes. alternative formulas.
In the meantime, experts say, parents shouldn’t water down their baby’s formula, try to make their own formula at home, or try to replace it with cow’s milk.
According to Brian Dittmeier, senior director of public policy at the National WIC Association, this is “not nutritionally comparable to breast milk or infant formula,” and could lead to nutrient deficiencies that can “impact profound about the growth and development of an infant”. ‘
He said any parents who are struggling to find formula can contact their local WIC agencies and food banks to help them find it in their communities.
The Infant Nutrition Council of America is also encouraging parents to keep a 10-day to two-week supply of formula at home – but urging them not to stockpile products as shortages continue – and experts say there is no end in sight.