Supply chain issues and product recalls are leaving stores unable to stock enough baby formula, and manufacturers are struggling to meet the demand.
The "out-of-stock" rate for baby formula has jumped from 2-8 percent in early 2021 to 30-40 percent in recent weeks. "In six states — Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Missouri, Texas and Tennessee — more than half of baby formula was completely sold out during the week starting April 24," CNN Business reports.
The issue worsened when the Food and Drug Administration shut down the Abbott Nutrition Facility in Michigan, a major producer of baby formula, after reports of two infant deaths and four bacterial infections purportedly connected to the formula.
Abbott told CNN it is taking "corrective actions ... as we work toward addressing items related to the recent recall. In the meantime, we are working to increase the supply of infant formula by prioritizing infant formula production at our facilities."
With consumers facing scarce baby formula, several large retailers, including CVS and Walgreens, have put limits on how much formula parents are allowed to buy at a time. Parents desperate to get their hands on a single can have reportedly had to drive across state lines or take to social media to seek help.
"Every day, we hear from parents who are hurt, angry, anxious and scared," senior director of public policy at the National WIC Association, Brian Dittmeier, told The New York Times, "The lives of their infants are on the line."