ORLANDO, Fla. – Rebecca Canales recently stopped breastfeeding her 2-month-old baby boy and is now faced with the reality parents across the country are struggling with: a shortage of baby formula.
“My first purchase I was kind of, you know, freaking out,” the new mom recalled. “You would think this wouldn’t be something that there would be a shortage for, so my husband and I were kind of frantic.”
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Canales said her son drinks baby formula eight times a day and going out to her nearby Publix or Target has been a challenge.
“For example, I tried to go to a Target nearby and they had nothing, so I had to place an order at one like 20 minutes from me and 30 mins from me. I’ve had to order from Amazon,” she said. “We couldn’t go to the Publix nearby, we couldn’t go to the pharmacy nearby, because there was nothing.”
According to Datasembly — an agency that tracks and provides grocery and retail records — inflation, supply chain shortages, and product recalls have brought an unprecedented amount of volatility for baby formula. Their report showed 40% of baby formula products were out of stock during the week of April 24 — up from just 11% at the end of November.
“We’re trying to figure out how we can get additional formula, you know, to alleviate some of the stress that they may be experiencing,” said Sharon Lyles, executive director of Central Florida Diaper Bank. The nonprofit has seen an increase in the need for more baby formula of about 20%.
“We get a lot of calls about specific baby formulas. A lot of it we don’t have because we’ve seen a decrease in the donations that are coming to our diaper bank,” Lyles said.
Through Facebook groups, Central Florida mothers within their communities are coming together as they face these uncertain times, posting pictures of formula cans and bottles they have leftover for those moms in need and on Twitter, parents have expressed their frustrations over the lack of availability.
Datasembly reported that baby formula stock has been one of the more affected products so far this year, and one that will continue to show higher than average out-of-stock levels.
Months of spot shortages at pharmacies and supermarkets have been exacerbated by the recall at Abbott, which was forced to shutter its largest U.S. formula manufacturing plant in February due to contamination concerns.