The Biden administration announced Wednesday it is acquiring more than 4 million 8-ounce bottles and 380,000 pounds of infant formula from Australia to be delivered to the United States by next week to address the ongoing baby formula shortage gripping the nation.
The move is part of President Biden’s “Operation Fly Formula,” which was launched last month to speed up the import of infant formula and to begin sending more formula to stores across the U.S.
The president on Wednesday said the administration is sourcing two flights, facilitated by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to transport Bubs Australia infant formulas from Melbourne, Australia, to Pennsylvania on June 9 and California on June 11.
The delivery is expected to include 380,000 pounds of Bubs Australia infant formula and approximately 4.6 million 8-ounce bottles. The administration said additional deliveries of Bubs Australia formula will be announced in the coming days.
BIDEN INVOKES DEFENSE PRODUCTION ACT, ‘OPERATION FLY FORMULA’ TO ADDRESS SHORTAGE
Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that Bubs Australia could export infant formula. It is expected to export enough powdered formula to produce 27.5 million 8-ounce bottles in the U.S.
The formulas include Bubs Organic Infant Formula S1, Bubs Organic Follow On Formula S2, Bubs Supreme Infant Formula, Supreme Follow On Formula, Bubs Goat Milk Infant Formula S1 and Bubs Goat Milk Follow On Formula S2.
Biden also on Wednesday announced a third Operation Fly Formula mission to ship approximately 3.7 million 8-ounce equivalents of Kendamil infant formula.
Last month, Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to address the nationwide baby formula shortage and directed his administration to use Defense Department aircraft to pick up formula from overseas that meets U.S. health and safety standards.
The announcement comes as the supply of infant formula across the country has decreased 40% since April, leaving parents of newborns frantic to find food to feed their babies. In addition, Abbott Laboratories announced a Similac recall, exacerbating formula shortages in recent months.
The White House has said it is working “24/7” to address the issue.
The president directed HHS and the Department of Agriculture to use Department of Defense (DOD) commercial aircraft to pick up overseas infant formula that meets U.S. health and safety standards, “so it can get to store shelves faster.”
UNITED AIRLINES TO FLY BABY FORMULA FROM LONDON TO US AS PART OF BIDEN’S OPERATION FLY FORMULA
The White House said DOD will use its contracts with commercial air cargo lines, as it did to move materials during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, to transport products from manufacturing facilities abroad that have met FDA safety standards.
The Defense Production Act was first enacted in 1950 as a response to the Korean War and has since been invoked more than 50 times. The act also addresses voluntary agreements — or what the government says is “an association of private interests, approved by the Government to plan and coordinate actions in support of the national defense.” The provision permits business competitors to work together to plan and coordinate measures to increase the supply of materials.
For the week ending May 22, the out-of-stock rate for baby formula rose to 70% nationwide, according to recent data by retail data firm Datasembly. It’s a significant increase from the week prior when the national out-of-stock rate for baby formula stood at 45%.
Abbott Nutrition’s Sturgis, Michigan, facility, which exacerbated the industry-wide shortage, is expected to restart production June 4, meaning products from the plant won’t return to store shelves until at least mid-July, according to the company’s production timeline.