Lack of infant formula: These retailers ration the inventory and limit customers’ purchases

The supply of infant formula – one of the most important products for new parents – is so limited right now that retailers are limiting the number of products consumers can buy to preserve their inventory.

The pharmacy chains Walgreens and CVS Health and the department store Target have recently set limits on how many baby milk products consumers can buy at one time.

A spokesman for Walgreens told CBS MoneyWatch that it limits customers to three infant formulas for infants and toddlers per day. transaction, referring to “increased demand and various supply problems.”

CVS Health also said it has imposed a limit of three baby replacement products per year. purchases in stores and online until it can provide adequate supply from its suppliers.

And a spokesman for Target confirmed that it has product restrictions in place. At, consumers can only buy four pieces of a given baby replacement product at a time.

The prices of infant formula, which three-quarters of infants in the United States receive within their first six months, have also risen. The average price of the most popular infant formulas has increased by as much as 18% over the last 12 months.

The supply chain snare related to COVID-19 contributes to the lack of formula around the United States. They include manufacturers who have more difficulty in obtaining key ingredients, package stoppages and labor shortages, where these factors are combined to influence production and distribution. In addition, a major revocation of infant formula in January, the shortage worsened.

At retailers across the United States, 29% of the best-selling baby milk products were sold out in the week of March 13, according to an analysis by Datasembly, which tracked baby milk replacements in more than 11,000 stores. This is a sharp increase from 11% in November.

“This is a shocking number that you do not see for other categories,” Ben Reich, CEO of Datasembly, told CBS MoneyWatch.

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“We have followed it over time and it is rising dramatically. We are seeing this category being affected by economic conditions more dramatically than others,” Reich added.

In 24 U.S. states, 30% of the formula was sold out in mid-March, while other states experienced even more severe shortages. In Minnesota, 54% of baby replacement products were sold out at the same time. Parents in Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, North and South Dakota, Rhode Island and Texas are also struggling with severe deficiencies of at least 40%, according to Datasembly.

By comparison, during the first seven months of 2021, between 2% and 8% of baby replacement products were sold out.

“We’ve noticed that it’s hard to find maybe a few months ago – two, three months ago – and so recently we can not find it,” San Francisco resident. Irene Anhoeck told CBS News earlier this year. “We’ve tried all the local targets. We checked Costco, Costco online, Walgreens, Long’s. Can’t find it anywhere.”

Product shortages were further exacerbated in February when Abbott Nutrition issued a widespread recall of its powdered baby milk products following reports of disease among infants who had ingested the baby products. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week issued a warning telling consumers not to use any of the recalled products manufactured at Abbott Nutrition’s plant in Sturgis, Michigan, after it found that the plant was unhygienic.

Avoid hoarding

The Infant Nutrition Council of America recently assured parents in a statement on its website that producers are increasing production to meet the needs of families. The council also encourages parents to keep a 10-day to two-week supply or formula at home, while urging them not to store products.

A spokesman for CVS Health acknowledged that “product supply challenges are currently affecting most of the retail industry.” The company is working with “suppliers of national baby milk substitutes to address this issue, and we apologize for any inconvenience our customers may experience,” the spokesman added.

In January, Enfamil, a leading brand for baby milk substitutes, said it managed an unprecedented 18% increase in demand for breast milk substitutes across the country.

“We have taken steps to increase production and are currently shipping 50% more product to resolve issues as quickly as possible,” a spokesman for Reckitt, producer of Enfamil, told CBS News in a statement at the time.

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