Global firms are boosting baby formula supplies in the US

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Empty shelves show a shortage of baby formula at a CVS store in San Antonio, Texas, U.S. May 10, 2022.Image source, Reuters

Global firms are boosting supplies of baby formula in the US as the country grapples with a shortage.

Gerber-maker Nestle said it was flying additional shipments to the country from the Netherlands and Switzerland.

UK-based Reckitt Benckiser, which makes Enfamil and has factories in the US, has also said it has ramped up production by 30% this year.

The move comes as US officials warned that resolution of the shortage remained months away.

On Monday, Abbott Laboratories, the biggest US supplier of powder infant formula brands such as Similac, reached a deal with regulators on steps needed to restart production at a key Michigan factory. It will take weeks for products to hit shelves after reopening, officials said.

The plant in Sturgis has been closed since February after bacteria was found in the facility, prompting recalls of several products.

The shutdown and recalls worsened a shortage that had been percolating for months due to supply chain and logistics delays and spiralled further after parents rushed to the stores to stock up.

The White House has been under pressure to respond to the problem.

Media caption,
Worry and fear as baby formula shortage continues

On Monday, the US Food and Drug Administration said the US was working to address the issue, including easing rules to allow increased foreign shipments.

"With increased production by other manufacturers, forthcoming import actions and the potential for Abbott Nutrition's Sturgis facility to resume production in the near-term, the FDA expects supply to continue to improve over the next couple of months," it said.

The FDA said sales of infant formula rose 13% in April compared to January, before the recall, and some indicators suggested that the out-of-stock rates had been over-stated.

"Increased sales are a good indicator of formula available to the general population," it said.

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