Parents still in search of baby formula as shortage continues

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Published: Aug. 9, 2022 at 7:44 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Parents are still struggling to find baby formula seven months after Abbott Nutrition recalled their formula.

According to a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Abbott, Reckitt Mead Johnson, Nestle and Perrigo control 90% of the market. The United States relies on those manufacturers to provide the baby formula supply.

Three of those four (Abbott, Reckitt Mead Johnson and Nestle) also have WIC contracts with different states, which since the 1980′s, have been modified to support a competitive bidding format. Abbott holds the most contracts at 35, while Reckitt Mead Johnson and Nestle account for the remaining state contracts.

WIC operates within an inflexible, $4 billion market which crashed once Abbott recalled their products in February.

“We are working daily with state-WIC agencies to ensure WIC consumers have access to product,” said Reckitt Mead Johnson’s Global Manufacturing Director Art Pike.

While WIC now is offering flexibility in brand choice, it still has a contributing credit in the shortage.

One Tri-State mom expressed her concern saying some parents worry about the shortage daily.

“There are people who are on specific brands of formula that aren’t on the shelves,” said a Tri-State mother, Emily Opell. “I think those are the people that are worried daily.”

Opell says her son uses Enfamil, a product of Reckitt Mead Johnson. She stocks up whenever she can, knowing that production is taking time and her son goes through what’s available quickly.

“I see the 32 ounce liquid [in store], and that bottle would last my son one day,” Opell said.

Reckitt Mead Johnson became the main formula producer in March, trying to substantiate the market without Abbott’s help.

According to CNBC, Abbott controlled 40% of the formula market prior to the recall, with Reckitt Mead Johnson accounting for almost the same amount of the market.

Losing Abbott meant that anxious parents would turn to them.

“We’re doing everything we can,” Pike said. “We are working 24-7 around the clock including holidays to get more feedings to the shelves.”

In his 40 years with the company, Pike says he has never seen anything like this.

“We are now feeding 50 percent of America’s babies with Enfamil, including 211,000 more babies than before the shortage,” Pike said.

Everyone is asking when the shortage is going to end, but no one has the answer.

“We will be running 24/7 through the end of the year to to make certain we are doing everything on our part to end this infant formula shortage,” Pike said.

“Probably the only good thing to come out of it is seeing the way people come together because no one wants you know, people’s babies to go hungry,” Opell said.

A mother in Texas created a map to aid parents in finding formula. To check your area, click here.

The WIC exceptions for formula can be found at the following links for Indiana, Kentucky, and Illinois.

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