A display rack of baby formula is seen at a Walmart grocery store in Orlando. Stores in the United States have struggled to stock enough baby formula, prompting some chains to limit customer purchases.
Paul Hennessy | Light Rocket | fake images
There appears to be no end in sight to America’s baby formula shortage, according to the latest data from a retail watchdog group.
The proportion of baby formula out of stock in the US hit 40 percent on April 24, according to Datasembly. That’s an increase from 29 percent in March.
“Unfortunately, we don’t see this slowing down anytime soon,” Datasembly CEO Ben Reich said in a statement Monday. “Inflation, supply chain shortages and product recalls have continued to bring volatility to the category, and it continues to be one of the hardest hit products in the market.”
The shortage was caused in part by the closure of a key production plant in Michigan this year. The plant, owned by Abbott Nutrition, has been the subject of an FDA and CDC investigation following reports of contaminated formula being linked to the deaths of at least two infants.
Formula shortages are especially dangerous, Brian Dittmeier, senior director of public policy for the National WIC Association, an advocacy group for women, infants and children, said in a statement.
“Unlike other food recalls, the shortage in the infant formula supply affects an important, or even exclusive, source of nutrition for infants,” he said. “Inadequate nutrition could have implications for the long-term health of infants.”
States experiencing the worst shortages include Texas, Tennessee, Missouri, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota, all with out-of-stock rates of around 50 percent. A total of 26 states have stockout rates of 40 to 50 percent.
Among metro areas, San Antonio’s out-of-stock rate has climbed to 57 percent, with Memphis and Nashville at 52 percent and Houston and Des Moines at 50 percent.
Sen. Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, is calling on the FDA and the Biden Administration to take action.
An Abbott spokesman did not respond to a request for comment. The company does not appear to have publicly updated its website regarding the investigation. from April 15.
A CVS representative confirmed that its stores are currently limits customers to three baby formula products per purchase. A Target representative said it currently had some limitations on ordering online, but not in-store in-person.
Representatives from Amazon, Publix, Walmart and Walgreens did not immediately respond to requests for comment.