Baby formula shortage could drag on, big manufacturer warns

The US baby formula shortage could drag on for the rest of the year, a major manufacturer warned Friday.

Perrigo Company, the maker of store-brand baby formulas for Walmart and Amazon, said its manufacturing facilities in Ohio and Vermont are now running at 115% capacity amid the nationwide crisis.

Even then, CEO Murray Kessler told Reuters, that shortages and heightened demand for baby formula could last for the “balance of the year.”

“We have stepped up and are killing ourselves to do everything we can,” Kessler said.

At the request of the Food and Drug Administration, Kessler said Perrigo is now only making four items — the store-brand versions of Similac Pro Sensitive and Pro Advance and Enfamil Gentlease and Infant.

The company ramped up production after the closure of formula maker Abbott’s Michigan plant and a safety recall of one of its products exacerbated ongoing supply-chain disruptions.

The shortage has led to parents frantically searching for baby formula, and some retailers, including CVS and Target, rationing what little supply they have left.

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Perrigo is working with major retailers, including Walmart and Target, to ensure they get stock “each week,” Kessler said, adding that allocations would be based on an average of what they received prior to “this crisis.”

The Perrigo Company vowed to ensure retailers like Walmart receive sufficient baby formula supplies.
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File

Perrigo is behind about 8% of the total baby formula market in the US, Kessler said.

Meanwhile, FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf claimed Friday that the government’s efforts to help other companies ramp up production and increase imports from overseas should help ease the shortage within “weeks.”

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Califf added that the federal agency would announce plans next week on how manufacturers and suppliers abroad could import their products into the US, as well as creating flexibility for domestic companies.

“We believe these and other ongoing efforts will help dramatically improve the supply in the U.S. in a matter of weeks,” Califf said.

“Our data indicates that in stock rates in retail stores are stabilizing but we continue to work around the clock to further increase availability.”

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