President Biden announces steps to address nationwide baby formula shortage
EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Retailers are still struggling to keep baby formula on their shelves.
Thursday, May 12, the White House announced measures to address the shortage after President Joe Biden spoke with two major retailers, Walmart and Target, and two large manufacturers, Gerber and Reckitt.
“Well, the key here is to produce more formula, but also to make more formula available and easier for consumers to buy,” said Brian Deese, Director of the White House National Economic Council. “Already we’re seeing the impact of the steps that we have taken to produce more formula. So the manufacturers that we spoke to yesterday, Gerber increasing production 50%. Reckitt’s increasing production by 40%. There has been more production of formula than there was in the weeks preceding the recall.”
The Biden administration is also looking to import more formula from Central America and Europe.
They addressed efforts to cracking down on price gouging, and the USDA is working with states to make it easier for vulnerable families to purchase formula with their WIC benefits.
Baby food manufacturers typically produce different size cans of the same type of formula, but President Biden has suggested to simplify the products that are offered to increase the speed and scale of their production.
“Well, we’re looking at every possible angle that we can to try to address this issue. And these actions will matter,” said Deese. “The president was on the phone yesterday with some of the nation’s largest retailers and largest manufacturers of baby formula and the thing that they said across the board is that the most important step that we can take right now is to give retailers more flexibility on the types of formula that they can sell and consumers more flexibility on the types they can buy, particularly through the wick program.
Another possible step President Biden is considering to increase the supply of baby formula is the Defense Production Act. This was last used during the pandemic to increase the supply of things like masks and COVID tests.
We reached out to Reckitt multiple times Friday, asking about their efforts through this shortage. They declined to do an interview.
The federal government launched a website Friday with resources for families struggling to find baby formula amid the national shortage.
For those who are interested, you can visit The Department of Health and Human Sciences site at HHS.gov for more information. The website features information including manufacturer hotlines, community resources and other guidance. It also has a link for WIC-eligible families who may need assistance.
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