Baby formula shortage

May 10, 2022
Image of an infant being fed from a bottle

You walk in the store and it is totally empty — so you panic because she’s five weeks old, you know? How are you going to feed your baby?

Ohio mother Autumn Kappus on a baby formula shortage in the U.S.
  • Why It Matters: The baby formula shortage has been building up for months, but intensified in April; shortages are expected to continue. Stores such as CVS, Walmart, and Target are limiting how much baby formula people can buy.
  • Why Is It Happening? In February, formula manufacturer Abbott Nutrition voluntarily recalled several baby formulas due to concerns about bacterial contamination after two infants died and two others were sickened. It also paused production at a Michigan manufacturing plant.
  • To date, all Abbott products examined have tested negative for bacterial contamination.
  • The shortage particularly impacts families who rely on public benefits. Abbott was the "exclusive supplier for more than half of the agencies administering WIC," a food program for low-income women and children.
  • How bad is it? The out-of-stock rate for baby formula stood between 2-8% in the first half of 2021 (which is considered normal). In July 2021, the percentage began to steadily increase and reached 31% in April 2022. Out-of-stock rates reached even higher levels in major cities (for context, anything above 10% is significant). Note: The most current reference data available was through April 14, 2022.
  • What is contributing to the shortage? "This issue has been compounded by supply chain issues, product recalls and historic inflation," Datasembly CEO Ben Reich said.

Everything you need to know about the baby formula shortage (Today)

The report: Data Shows Out-of-Stock Impacts of Inflation, Supply Chain Issues, and Recalls as Out-of-Stock Rate in April 2022 hits 31%. (Datasembly)

The baby formula supply problem is getting worse (CNN Business)


Powdered Infant Formula Recall: What to Know (U.S. Food & Drug Administration)

FDA Investigation of Cronobacter Infections: Powdered Infant Formula (February 2022) (FDA; this report includes a full list of recalled brands)

by Jenna Lee,