Baby formula is getting scarce in the US, with major retailers limiting customers to three items per transaction. As prices rise and shelves empty, Republican lawmakers have called the shortages a “national crisis” and accused President Joe Biden’s government of economic mismanagement.
“The formula shortage is a national crisis, hitting poor moms and kids the hardest,” Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican, tweeted on Monday. Urging the Food and Drug Administration to set out a plan to increase production, Cotton declared that “the Biden Administration needs to take this seriously.”
“Nearly a year after the White House announced their ‘Supply Chain Taskforce,’ parents can’t even find food for their children,” Republican Rep. Jim Banks (Indiana) added. “This is another growing crisis!”
Amid these calls for action, several journalists with young children have described asking relatives from other states for packages of formula, and noted that even online formula can have a wait time of up to two months.
At retailers across the US, 40% of the best-selling baby formula products were out of stock during the week ending April 24, according to figures from analytics firm Datasembly published in multiple US media outlets on Monday. Based on data from more than 11,000 stores, that figure is up from 31% two weeks earlier, and 2-8% during 2021.
Prices have increased too, with CBS News noting that infant formula has risen in cost by as much as 18% in the last year.
Amid this spiralling and potentially dire problem (babies can’t always switch between brands, and formula cannot be watered down or substituted with cow’s milk), in recent weeks CVS and Walgreens have both limited customers to three formula items per transaction, while Target allows shoppers to buy four.