Milk shortage: Biden embarrassed, deliveries from abroad

Faced with the crisis of shortage of infant milk raging in the United States, massive arrivals of foreign productions are planned, even if President Joe Biden admits that “there is still work to be done”.

The shortage of powdered milk for American babies continues to worry parents and doctors. And the crisis is also taking a political turn, since it is President Joe Biden himself who is now managing the file. It virtually brought together the representatives of five major foreign groups producing infant milk, in order to be able to massively supply the American territory. A partial solution, since the head of the White House admits “that there is still work“.

Massive imports from Australia and Great Britain

While the infant milk market in the United States was the object of a monopoly, which virtually prohibited the arrival in the sector of a foreign group, the infant food shelves will soon be stocked with infant milk from from afar. Abbot no longer being able to supply American parents, and faced with the persistence of the shortage, President Joe Biden thus resolved to call on Wednesday, June 1, 2022 to five major foreign infant milk production groups. 172 tons of milk, enough to make about 4.6 million baby bottles, are therefore intended to be shipped from Australia, and 136 tons from Great Britain (enough to make about 3.7 million bottles) indicates Le Figaro, including Neocate milk, designed by Danone, and essential for babies allergic to cow’s milk protein. On May 17, the Nestlé brand also announced the shipment of infant formula to the USA from Switzerland and the Netherlands.

A temporary measure?

A supply that will considerably help parents, temporarily at least, since Joe Biden himself recognizes that this is not enough. In fact, the American executive has made use of an old text dating from the Cold War, thus granting itself specific powers in the industrial field to help suppliers increase production, explains Le Figaro. Indeed, some powdered milks are only manufactured by the Abbott brand, which closed one of its factories in early May. Some parents have tried by all means to obtain infant milk, sometimes buying baby milk at exorbitant prices on the internet. Others have tried to make their own breast milk, but American doctors have warned of the dangers of such homemade recipes. They are also ringing the alarm bell following infant hospitalization : according to Business Insiderat least 4 babies have been admitted due to nutritional deficiencies at the Medical University of South Carolina and other establishments have recorded cases in Atlanta, Memphis and Tennessee.

An airlift to import infant formula into the United States

on May 18, Joe Biden announced the establishment of an airlift to import infant formula meets US standards. An airlift, whose tons of milk negotiated on Wednesday June 1 and expected to arrive in the next few hours are now the subject of a campaign: Operation Fly Formula“. Thus, a whole storytelling is scripted by the White House, from the creation of a winged bottle logo, to the broadcast of soldiers unloading the precious pallets. The American president also asked his Ministers of Health Health and Agriculture to “take all possible and appropriate steps to import more baby milk” and invoked a law called the “Defense Production Act” which stipulates that infant milk powder ingredients must be sold first Finally, the FDA relaxed its criteria in order to speed up the authorization of imports and authorized the restart of the Abbott factory in Sturgis.

Abbott Group Chairman apologizes

The CEO of Abbott, the infant milk brand that closed one of its factories in February, has apologized in the May 21 Washington Post newspaper. “We are sorry for all the families we have abandoned since our voluntary recall exacerbated the shortage of infant formula in our country” said Robert Ford who is ensuring more production in the coming months. “By the end of June, we will be providing more infant formula to Americans than in January before the recall. Finally, we are making significant investments to ensure this never happens again” he added.

Where does the milk shortage in the United States come from?

At the beginning of May, the stock-out rate reached 43% i.e. 10% more than the average for April 2022, according to data provider Datasembly. The infant milk shelves are indeed empty, in particular due to supply problems, as well as the closing of a factory of the manufacturer Abbott. The starting point of this shortage? The death of two babies which forced this milk manufacturer to recall powdered milk on February 17 (including Similac milk), in its factory located in Michigan. The targeted milk was ultimately not in question, but milk production could not resume, which aggravated the shortage.

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