United Airlines to fly baby formula from London to US as part of Biden's Operation Fly Formula
The US is importing Kendamil formula from the United Kingdom
United Airlines is the first international airline to offer free flights to import baby formula from the United Kingdom amid the ongoing shortage.
Operation Fly Formula, the President Biden administration's effort to combat dwindling baby formula supplies in the U.S., is utilizing transportation infrastructure from United to bring over 300,000 pounds of Kendamil formula from Europe, according to a White House press statement. The operation will formally begin on June 9, and will be made available to the public as it rolls in.
"United Airlines has agreed to transport Kendamil formula free of charge from Heathrow Airport in London to multiple airports across the country over a three-week period. These are the first Operation Formula Flight to be donated by an airline carrier," the White House announced Wednesday.
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Kendal Nutricare, the manufacturer of the formula, will be shipping over 2 million cans of the baby formula to the states in order to relieve shortages nationwide.
The formula will be distributed to Target outlets in the next few weeks but specific supply chains and locations are not yet announced.
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"Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that the agency is exercising enforcement discretion so that Kendal Nutricare can import infant formula under the Kendamil brand. Kendal Nutricare has announced that they will export up to 2 million cans of Kendamil infant formula – the equivalent of at least 54 million 8-ounce bottles to the United States."
The formula will be exported from Heathrow Airport in London and arrive to airports across the country.
"Under Operation Fly Formula, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are authorized to use Department of Defense (DOD)-contracted commercial aircraft to pick up overseas infant formula that meets U.S. health and safety standards, so it can get to store shelves faster."
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The baby formula shortage has continued to worsen as baby formula makers and the head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continue to face bipartisan grilling on what led to the national crisis.
For the week ending May 22, the out-of-stock rate for baby formula rose to 70% nationwide, according to recent data by retail data firm Datasembly. It's a significant increase from the week prior when the national out-of-stock rate for baby formula stood at 45%.
Abbott Nutrition's Sturgis, Michigan, facility, which exacerbated the industry-wide shortage, is expected to restart production June 4, meaning products from the plant won't return to store shelves until at least mid-July, according to the company's production timeline.
FOX Business' Daniella Genovese contributed to this report.