Nestle Flying Baby Formula to US From Europe to Help Alleviate Shortages

By Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.
May 17, 2022 Updated: May 17, 2022

Nestle SA is airlifting baby formula to the United States from Europe in an effort to ease nationwide shortages, the company said on May 17.

The Swiss multinational food and drink manufacturer is flying Gerber baby food formula supplies to the United States from the Netherlands and Alfamino baby formula from Switzerland.

“We prioritized these products because they serve a critical medical purpose as they are for babies with cow’s milk protein allergies,” the company said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

“Both products were already being imported but we moved shipments up and rushed via air to help fill immediate needs.”

The Epoch Times has contacted Nestle SA for comment.

Four companies—Abbott Nutrition, Mead Johnson & Company LLC, Gerber Products Company (a subsidiary of Nestle), and Perrigo Company PLC—control almost 90 percent of the infant formula market, but stores across the United States have been struggling to stock infant formula amid supply chain issues prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The situation has been further exacerbated by a recall from Abbott Nutrition following reports of four infants getting sick after allegedly consuming the products.

The products were manufactured at the Abbott plant in Sturgis, Michigan. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) promptly shut down the facility after receiving consumer complaints, but officials announced on May 16 that the FDA reached an agreement with Abbott to reopen the plant.

“This is a major step toward re-opening our Sturgis facility so we can ease the nationwide formula shortage,” Abbott CEO Robert Ford said in a statement. “We look forward to working with the FDA to quickly and safely re-open the facility.”

Abbott Laboratories said on May 13 that it has flown millions of baby formula cans to the United States from its facility in Cootehill, Ireland, to help deal with shortages.

That facility is also registered with the FDA.

“We know that the recall has worsened the industry-wide infant formula shortage, and we have been working to get as much product into the hands of parents as we can,” an Abbott spokesperson said in a statement.

Elsewhere, Danone, the owner of the Happy Family and Happy Baby formula labels, said it’s working to increase production.

A Danone spokesperson told BNN Bloomberg that “high demand has impacted our formula availability” and that the company’s manufacturing facility is “running at maximum capacity and we are prioritizing production of our top-selling infant formulas.”

The spokesperson did not provide further details regarding whether the company was shipping any products from other regions or which formulas it was prioritizing.

British consumer goods company Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC is also boosting baby formula production by about 30 percent and making more frequent deliveries to stores to help counter the shortages in U.S. supermarkets, an executive told Reuters on May 17.

The Biden administration has taken other steps to try to combat the shortages, including cutting red tape to make it easier to import formulas from overseas and get them onto U.S. shelves, and offering support to manufacturers to speed up production and distribution.

However, some lawmakers, including Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), have criticized the administration for its lack of action.

“I wrote a letter in February, reaching out to the FDA demanding, ‘What is your plan?’” Stefanik told NTD’s “Capitol Report on May 13. “We got no substantive response.”

Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.