US baby formula crisis: Abbott could start production in 2 weeks

Supply chain snags, product recalls and runaway inflation have made it very difficult to find baby formula in the United States.

Empty shelves show a shortage of baby formula at a Target store in San Antonio, Texas, U.S.
About 40 percent of baby formula products were out of stock across the US last month, according to data firm Datasembly [File: Kaylee Greenlee Beal/Reuters]

Abbott Laboratories said on Wednesday it could restart production of infant formula at its troubled Michigan facility within two weeks.

The company in February recalled some baby formulas, including certain Similac products, made at the plant in Sturgis after complaints about bacterial infections in infants who had consumed the products.

The news comes a day after United States retailers including Target Corp, CVS Health Corp and Walgreens Boots Alliance said they have limited purchases of infant formula due to a supply shortage.

Abbott will restart production of EleCare, Alimentum and metabolic formulas first, followed by Similac and other brands, after receiving the go-ahead from the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

Once production is resumed, it will take six to eight weeks before the product returns to shelves.

Abbott is the leading supplier of milk formula in the US and the recall has driven a shortage across the country, forcing many leading retailers to limit purchases.

The FDA has said it is working with manufacturers to alleviate supply issues and that several companies are at or over capacity.

The limits come after top supplier Abbott Laboratories in February recalled some baby formula including Similac made at its plant in Michigan due to complaints of bacterial infections in infants who consumed the products.

The FDA said it is taking several steps including working with Abbott and other manufacturers to alleviate supply issues.

The agency said several infant formula manufacturers are meeting or exceeding capacity levels to meet current demand and that more infant formula was bought in the month of April than in the month prior to the recall.

“We are doing everything in our power to ensure there is adequate product available where and when they need it,” FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said in a statement.

About 40 percent of baby formula products were out of stock across the US last month, said Ben Reich, the chief executive of data firm Datasembly.

Supply chain snags, product recalls and historic inflation have compounded the shortage, he added.

Source: Reuters