Baby formula shortage: Out-of-stock rate hits 45% nationwide in May
Abbott Nutrition, Gerber and Reckitt are expected to testify during a congressional hearing
The national out-of stock rate of baby formula continues to worsen as major U.S. baby formula makers prepare to testify before Congress about what they're doing to combat the industry-wide crisis.
Out-of-stock percentage for baby formula stood at 45% nationwide for the week ending on May 15, according to retail data firm, Datasembly.
BABY FORMULA SHORTAGES WORSEN AMID RECALLS, SUPPLY CHAIN ISSUES
In April, baby formula shortages hit 30% before jumping to 40% at the end of the month, according to Datasembly. By early May, the out-of-stock rate rose to 43%.
"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," Datasembly CEO Ben Reich said in a statement to FOX Business.
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Parents and caregivers have been scrambling for months as shelves increasingly become more barren. Meanwhile, retailers were forced to put purchasing limits on the product to try and curtail stockpiling.
The formula shortage worsened in February after Abbott Nutrition's Michigan formula plant, the largest in the U.S., closed down due to contamination problems.
Abbott is only one of four companies, including Gerber, Perrigo and Reckitt, that produce an estimated 90% of U.S. formula.
Next week, three of those companies, Abbott, Gerber, Reckitt, are expected to testify during a congressional hearing about what’s causing the industry-wide formula shortage and what needs to be done to fix it.
"There’s no excuse for what’s happening all across this country right now," Colorado Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette said in a statement. "Ensuring every parent and infant has access to the formula they need has become an all-hands-on-deck effort and one of our committee’s top priorities."
DeGette continued: "We want to know from the witnesses we hear from next week exactly what happened and how it happened; but more importantly we want to know what needs to be done to get more infant formula on the shelves as quick as possible."
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In the meantime, President Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to speed production of infant formula and authorized flights to import supply from overseas as part of "Operation Fly Formula."
The first of several expected flights from Europe landed in Indianapolis on Sunday carrying 78,000 pounds of formula. More shipments are set to arrive this week, according to the White House.
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Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council, told CNN’s "State of the Union" that people should see "more formula in stores starting as early as this week."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.