Despite the most recent efforts to increase the supply of baby formula, the shortage has only gotten worse, and President Biden's comments on the issue on Wednesday highlighted an apparent disconnect between the industry's alertness and the administration's.
Biden shared that he was not aware of the shortage until April, two months after it had become a crisis. Manufacturing executives and corporate leaders apparently knew of the severe shortage in February, and the White House struggled to explain why the administration waited so long to address it with the president.
The delayed action now raises "new questions about the administration's monitoring and handling of the problem," The Washington Post says. The president admitted he underestimated the impact of the Abbott baby formula plant shutting down in Michigan, along with the back-to-back recalls.
"I don't think anyone anticipated the impact of the shutdown of one facility," Biden said, though USA Today points out he said this "minutes after manufacturers said they anticipated a shortage." Biden added, "Once we learned the extent of it and how broad it was, it kicked everything into gear."
Senior vice president at Reckitt, Robert Cleveland, told Biden they "were aware of the general impact that this would have." He said the formula manufacturer took immediate actions to reach out to retailers, including Target and Walmart, warning them of the potential issue.
Now, the White House is working to continue increasing the supply, shipping nearly 4 million bottles from London to the U.S., NBC News reports.