May 11, 2022

EVERYTHING IS GOING SWIMMINGLY: My Baby Needs Formula, And I’m Getting Scared She Won’t Have It.

According to analysis from Datasembly, 40 percent of top-selling baby formula products were out of stock at retailers across the United States as of April 24. That’s up from 11 percent in November of 2021. Six states — Tennessee, Texas, Missouri, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota — hit shortages of more than 50 percent. Why is this happening?

Aside from one manufacturing plant being shut downsince mid-February, the only other answer seems to be infamous supply chain issues. The Biden administration and other officials have been largely silent about the formula shortage. Finally, on Monday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki addressed the issue, claiming it is a “priority for the FDA.”

But she did not explain why it is happening, why producing enough formula to feed the nation’s babies isn’t a top priority, or provide any sort of timeline for when parents can expect shelves to be fully restocked with their infants’ sustenance. The only thing she did do is possibly scare moms and dads further by saying, “I don’t believe there’s a national stockpile of baby formula.”

Gee, you’d think a devoted family man like Pete Buttigieg would be laser-focused on the supply chain aspect of the shortage.

Related: Lengthy Twitter thread from Helena Bottemiller Evich of the Politico on “the infant formula shortage situation, which feels like a slow-moving train wreck. First, retail stock has been rocky for months. It was already bad over the holidays, then a big recall + plant shutdown in Feb. made it worse… ‘If this doesn’t get fixed soon, I don’t know how my son will survive,’ said Phoebe Carter, whose 5-year old son John — a nature-lover and ‘paleontologist in training’ — has a severe form of Eosinophilic Esophagitis, a rare digestive and immune system disease. ‘If, God forbid, a family member of President Joe Biden or Jeff Bezos or someone influential had one of these diseases, this crisis wouldn’t have made it to Day Two,’ Carter said.”

Finally, the New York Times spots Republicans seizing(!) on the issue: A Baby Formula Shortage Leaves Desperate Parents Searching for Food.

Republicans have seized on the widening anxiety among parents to blame President Biden, arguing that the administration has not done enough to ramp up production. On Tuesday, Senator Mitt Romney of Utah sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture, asserting that federal officials have been too slow to respond.

The F.D.A., which is leading the federal response, said officials were working with Abbott Nutrition, the company involved in the recall, to restart production at its plant in Sturgis, Mich. The agency said it had been meeting regularly with various infant formula manufacturers to increase production capacity and urging retailers to consider placing sales limits on infant formula products.

As Jim Treacher likes to say:

UPDATE: Biden’s Incoming Press Secretary Laughs When Asked Who is Handling Baby Formula Crisis.

MORE: How the Federal Government is Making the Baby Formula Shortage Way Worse. “Free trade isn’t just good for consumers and a boon for economic growth. Having free trade leads to diversified supply lines, which breed resilience. Meanwhile, relying on just crony, protected domestic producers or one single foreign supplier breeds a dangerous reliance. ‘America’s demand for baby formula has outpaced domestic supply. It’s exactly the type of situation where imports would help alleviate the domestic supply crunch and make American markets more resilient,’ Reason’s Eric Boehm explained. ‘Unfortunately, American trade policy is doing exactly the opposite right now.’”

(Updated and bumped.)

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