The US government’s Operation Fly Formula program will see infant milk powder from overseas hit the US market in the coming weeks, which will be used by more than 200,000 infants each week.
Infant formula will soon be available to parents in the United States. However, shelves remain empty due to supply chain issues and product recalls. The White House announced Wednesday that it will ship 2 million cans of Kendamil infant formula from the United Kingdom, beginning June 9. This shipment includes about 3.2 million bottles worth of Kendamil Organic Stage 1 infant formula and 540,000 bottles worth of Kendamil Classic Stage 1 infant formula.
The Kendamil formula will be distributed through US retailers in stores and online. The first shipment will be available at Target stores in the coming weeks, according to the White House. Additionally, an Australian formula manufacturer expects to ship about 250,000 cans to US stores next week in two planeloads. Bubs Australia CEO Kristy Carr said that flights of baby formula will take off from Australia on June 9 and June 11 and will arrive in Pennsylvania and California respectively. The flights will include the equivalent of about 4.6 million 8-ounce bottles each.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Joe Carr, owner of American-made shoes company US Shoe, said that he hopes at least some retail stores will have his products within days of landing. The retailers are equally eager to work with him and U.S. President Joe Biden’s task force to see this happen.
Last weekend, Nestle sent more than 38,000 cans of Gerber Good Start Extensive HA formula to one retailer, but the company would not name the retailer or say whether it was available for purchase. The company also refused to disclose how many cans of the formula remain in their possession.
CNN found the product on Walmart’s website and on Gerber’s website, but it was unclear how much of the product was available. In a statement to CNN, Tarun Malkani, CEO of Gerber, said his company is among executives from five infant formula companies to meet with President Biden on Wednesday afternoon to discuss their progress on ramping up the supply of formula for the US.
“We want to make sure we have coverage right across the country. We’re going to be prioritizing the areas that are in most need and vulnerable communities,” Carr said. Bubs plans to send another approximately 250,000 cans in two more planeloads in “a week or a few weeks,” Carr said.
The company plans to send another 750,000 cans of formula in the coming weeks and months, for a total of 1.25 million cans of six types of formula for children through 1 year of age, she said.
Carr’s comments provide a comprehensive overview of the initiatives being taken by retailers, industry, and government to assist American families during this economic crisis. Carr says that all these entities have focused on speed to market, with the goal of supporting American families who are struggling financially.
Abbott Nutrition said last week that it plans to restart work at its Sturgis, Michigan, plant on June 4, months after it was shut down. During inspections that spanned January, February and March, US Food and Drug Administration investigators found Cronobacter sakazakii bacteria in several areas inside the plant, and several types of formula were recalled.
The company is expected to resume operations in June, and the first batches of its new formula are expected to be available around June 20. The plant will start with specialty metabolic formulas, with other kinds to come later. For now, parents are still struggling to find formula. Datasembly , a firm tracking market trends, reported that 70% of formula products were out of stock at some point during the week ending May 22. The estimates found stock rates to be worse than the week before.
Two national chain stores reported no improvement in formula stocks as of Tuesday, CNN reports. CVS spokesman Matt Blanchette told CNN that “our situation has not changed” since last week, and an executive of a supermarket chain in New England said it could be several months before there is any change to the supply in infant formula on store shelves.
According to Robert Rybick, president and CEO of Geissler’s Supermarkets, which has seven locations in Connecticut and Massachusetts: “With the delay in reopening the Abbott Sturgis plant, we hear it will be six to eight weeks; however, when filling the pipeline, especially with the current labor situation and trucking issues, we know that it’s likely to be three or four months before we get back to more regular stock conditions.”
According to a Nestlé spokesperson, most of the company’s shipments under Operation Fly Formula last week went to hospitals, home care companies and WIC programs. The spokesperson did not say whether the product had arrived at the destinations.