US Infant Formula Shortage Expected to Continue Until Spring

The nearly year-long infant formula shortage in the US is likely to continue until the spring, according to senior officials with Reckitt Benckiser, who were quoted in an exclusive report by Reuters. The firm makes Enfamil, the largest infant formula brand currently on the market.

US Infant Formula Shortage Expected to Continue Until Spring
Image credit: 19th

Facts

  • The nearly year-long infant formula shortage in the US is likely to continue until the spring, according to senior officials with Reckitt Benckiser, who were quoted in an exclusive report by Reuters. The firm makes Enfamil, the largest infant formula brand currently on the market.
  • The infant formula shortage traces back to February when Abbott Nutrition, the country’s biggest infant formula maker at the time, issued a recall for multiple products and shut down a plant because of bacterial contamination.
  • The issue escalated into a national formula supply crisis, and, at the peak of the crisis in May, 40% of the US’s baby formula supplies were out of stock.
  • In May, the White House became involved and invoked the Defense Production Act to help manufacturers obtain the ingredients needed to make formula and increase the supply.
  • Despite these measures, supplies still haven't returned to normal: "I suspect that will persist to some degree until the spring resets," said Robert Cleveland, Reckitt senior vice president of North America and Europe Nutrition.

Sources: Reuters, 19th, and Atlantic.

Narratives

  • Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by Newsweek. The formula crisis in the US is unthinkable. How can parents struggle to feed their babies in a country that is so wealthy and developed? But it's no accident. The blame lies squarely with the government. This is what happens when a product is over-regulated and socialized, when the economy is shut down, and when inflation is allowed to get out of control. Congress should have done more to prevent this problem but, instead, they've been letting families suffer for more than a year.
  • Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by The Washington Post. The formula crisis was challenging for many US families, especially those living in poverty. Thankfully, the government acted swiftly to combat the issue by supporting the production of formula in unprecedented ways and making sure it got into the hands of those who need it most. There are lessons to be learned here, especially in terms of how businesses, private organizations, and government can step up together during troubling times. This is a great example of that collaboration in action.
  • Cynical narrative, as provided by CNN. This formula shortage was a nightmare caused by corporate greed. The US has among the lowest levels of breastfeeding mothers compared to most industrialized nations because of formula manufacturers’ aggressive marketing and promotional practices. Breastfeeding is systematically undermined in order to increase companies' profits. And this is the result: a couple of recalls and a closed factory turn into a food crisis.