Baby Formula Shortage

US Baby Formula Shortage Rate Jumps to 70% as Crisis Worsens


Target on Wilshire Blvd had no baby formula for sale on May 25, 2022. The sign says that due to the national shortage of baby formula, Target was limiting purchases to one per customer.

Associated Press

5.27.22 The baby formula shortage took a dramatic turn for the worse last week, according to data on 130,000 stores across the US.

Out-of-stock rates spiked to 70% nationally for the week ending May 21, up from 45% the prior week, based on data from the retail-tracking firm Datasembly. In many cities and states, the situation was far more dire.

More than two-thirds of states had shortage rates over 70%, with California, Missouri, Minnesota, Nevada, Montana, Louisiana, Arizona and Utah over 80%, and Utah hit hardest at 89%, up from 49% the week prior.

In Houston, rates skyrocketed to an alarming 90%, up from 56% the week prior. San Francisco and Sacramento, which previously had of the lowest out-of-stock rates at 31% and 32% respectively, saw their shortage rates spike precipitously last week, to 87% and 88%.

Indianapolis had the lowest shortage rate at 49% for the week ending May 21, up from 39% the week prior. West Texas was a close second with an out-of-stock rate at 53%, but that's still more than twice the 26% shortage rate from the week prior.

Federal and local regulators have been taking steps to try to increase supply. This week, the Biden administration invoked emergency powers under the Defense Production Act to speed production of formula. The president ordered the use of government planes to import ingredients and formula, which he said would be faster than normal shipping routes. The Food and Drug Administration also announced this week that it would ease import rules. At the local level, some cities and states are enacting provisions to prevent price gouging.

FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said before Congress on May 26, "Within two, months we should be beyond normal and with a plethora."

Meanwhile, parents are scrambling. In an interview this week, Golden State Warriors player Damion Lee, who has a baby, connected the formula shortage to Tuesday's mass school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, saying: "It's easier to get a gun than baby formula right now."


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