Enfamil and Gerber Filling Baby Formula Gap Left by Similac

Enfamil and Gerber Filling Baby Formula Gap Left by Similac
  • Abbott says it will resume producing Similac baby formula within two weeks at its Michigan plant.
  • Since February, the outage for the leading brand has led to severe shortages across the US.
  • Now, Abbott and its competitors are taking dramatic measures to get supplies on to store shelves.

As the US shortage of baby formula approaches its fourth month, a measure of relief could be on the horizon.

Abbott Nutrition said on Monday that it had reached an agreement with the US Food and Drug Administration that will allow it to resume production of Similac baby formula at the company’s plant in Michigan.

“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 know millions of parents and caregivers depend on us and we’re deeply sorry that our voluntary recall worsened the nationwide formula shortage.”

The company also noted that it has flown in millions of cans of powdered formula from its facility in Ireland, and increased production at its sites in Ohio and Arizona.

Abbott’s chief competitors — Nestlé and Mead Johnson — have also been taking dramatic measures to replace the shortfall that reached a record high 43% at the beginning of May.

Mead Johnson, which produces Enfamil at three locations in the US, told Reuters that it has granted “unlimited overtime” to staff in order to boost production.

“We normally might pack an entire truck before we ship it. For timeliness, we’re not doing that. We’re packing it with as much product as we have and then we’re just getting it out the door,” a company executive told Reuters.

Enfamil now represents half the US formula market, up from roughly a third before the shortages began. Taken together the leading three companies represent nearly 90% of the US baby formula market.

Nestlé, which makes Gerber and Alfamino formulas, said Tuesday it was accelerating production in Switzerland and the Netherlands and flying formula to the US from Europe.

In a statement to Insider, the company said it was prioritizing deliveries to hospitals, with a particular emphasis on formulas made for babies who have allergies to cow’s milk protein.

The increased imports follow a White House announcement last week calling on the FDA to simplify the process of importing baby formula from foreign factories. Only about 2% of formula consumed in the US is normally imported.

In a press call on Monday night, senior administration officials said the federal government is offering logistical support to move formula supplies from factories and ports to store shelves, and that the timing is expected to take “a couple of weeks.”

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