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Half a Million Bottles Worth of Baby Formula Just Landed in the US

The 78,000 pounds of formula, flown in from Germany, is the first of many shipments planned under Biden’s new Operation Fly Formula.
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By Wyndi Kappes, Associate Editor
Published May 23, 2022
Airmen standing in the cargo bay of a U.S. Air Force C-17 carrying 78,000 lbs of Infant formula from Europe at Indianapolis Airport on May 22, 2022
Image: Jon Cherry/Getty Images

Seventy-eight thousand pounds of baby formula, around half a million bottles worth, has arrived in the United States. In a Tweet on May 22, President Biden announced that the shipment was the first of many planned under Operation Fly Formula, the latest effort by the White House to combat the ongoing formula shortage.

The formula was flown from Germany to Indianapolis by an Air Force plane, specifically authorized under the Defense Production Act, which allows the president to expedite and expand the supply of materials by requiring companies to take actions in the interest of national defense. In an interview with CNN, Brian Deese, the director of the White House National Economic Council Aboard, said that Sunday’s shipment was “15% of the specialty medical grade formula needed in the US.” The shipment includes hypoallergenic formulas (for babies with cow’s milk protein allergies), specifically 132 pallets of Nestle Health Science Alfamino Infant and Alfamino Junior formula. Another 114 pallets of Gerber Good Start Extensive HA formula are expected to arrive this week.

Parents who have been searching for these hypoallergenic formulas can expect a total of around 1.5 million 8-ounce bottles to arrive by the end of the week. Deese says the formula will serve as a form of “incremental relief over the coming days” as factory lines restart and more formula is distributed to store shelves (which could happen as soon as the end of this week).

Despite the encouraging developments in getting baby formula to parents in need, Deese, a father himself, says the government must make changes to avoid this crisis in the future. “The bigger root to your question is how did we end up in a market where we have three companies that control 90% of the market?” Deese replied, when asked how the United States landed in this shortage to begin with. “It goes back to the question of how we can bring more competition into our economy and have more providers of this formula so that no individual company has this much control over supply chains. And we are going to have to work on that,” said Deese.

In the meantime, if you need access to formula, check out these 16 resources to help you in your search. And if you’re hoping to give back during the crisis, you can find ways to help out here.

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