How One Brand Is Trying To Save The US From Its Baby Formula Shortage

The United States has been facing a severe shortage of baby formula ever since a major manufacturing plant was closed in February (via New York Times). The shortage has continued to worsen, even as manufacturer's have ramped up overall production (via Wall Street Journal). One brand is working to do everything in their power to help alleviate the shortage.

The first seeds of the crisis were planted back in February when a manufacturing plant run by Abbott, who produces the Similac, EleCare, and Alimentum baby formulas, was closed due to contamination fears. The company recalled formula produced from the plant after investigations by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration linked the formula to Cronobacter sakazakii infections (via FDA). Two infants were killed due to the infection, though Abbott has said there is no evidence the formula was the cause (via NPR).

The industry was already struggling to keep up with demand due to supply chain issues, and losing an entire plant from one of the largest producers only made things worse. In recent weeks public and private entities have worked to combat the shortage. Private companies have ramped up production to meet demand. The Biden Administration recently cited the Defense Production Act of 1950 to further help boost production, and has announced airlifts from Europe to help fill American shelves as well (via New York Times).

Enfamil brand to import formula from Singapore

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Reckitt Benckiser company, who owns the Enfamil infant formula brand, announced Wednesday that they would be importing the equivalent of 66 million 8-oz bottles of infant formula from a manufacturer based in Singapore. The Wall Street Journal notes that this formula would be "enough to feed more than 130,000 babies a month, on average." The formula will be brought to one of the company's Minnesota based plants to be processed and packaged before being distributed throughout the U.S.

This news comes just in time after Abbott announced that the Michigan plant whose closure was a contributing factor to the crisis was forced to shut down once again (via New York Times). The plant reopened only two weeks ago in an effort to address the formula shortage. It was then forced to close again Wednesday after severe storms caused flooding in parts of the facility. The plant manufactures the EleCare specialty formula. The company says that they have sufficient supplies of the formula to meet demand until production can resume in a few weeks. Enfamil's formula import could be a major factor in mitigating the loss of this plant for the second time as manufacturer's work to end the shortage.