40 percent of America's baby formula supplies are out of stock

Rob Wile
A baby formula display shelf is seen at a Walmart grocery store in Orlando. Stores across the United States have struggled to stock enough baby formula, causing some chains to limit customer purchases.
Paul Hennessy | Lightrocket | Getty Images

There appears to be no end in sight to America's baby formula shortage, according to the most recent data from a retail tracking group.

The share of baby formula out of stock across the U.S. hit 40 percent on April 24, according to Datasembly. That's up from 29 percent in March.

"Unfortunately, we don't see this slowing down any time soon," Datasembly CEO Ben Reich said in a statement Monday. "Inflation, supply chain shortages and product recalls have continued to bring volatility to the category, and continues to be one of the most affected products in the market."

The shortages were prompted in part by the shutdown of a key production facility in Michigan this year. The plant, owned by Abbott Nutrition, has been the subject of an FDA and CDC investigation following reports of contaminated formula that was linked to the deaths of at least two infants.

Formula shortages are especially dangerous, Brian Dittmeier, senior director of public policy at the National WIC Association, an advocacy group for women, infants and children, said in a statement.

"Unlike other food recalls, shortages in the infant formula supply affects a major — or even exclusive — source of nutrition for babies," he said. "Inadequate nutrition could have long-term health implications for babies."

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The states seeing the worst shortages include Texas, Tennessee, Missouri, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota — all with out-of-stock rates of about 50 percent. A total of 26 states have out of stock rates of 40 to 50 percent.

Among metro areas, San Antonio's out-of-stock rate has climbed to 57 percent, with Memphis and Nashville at 52 percent and Houston and Des Moines at 50 percent.

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., is calling on the FDA and the Biden Administration to take action.

An Abbott spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment. The company does not appear to have publicly updated its website regarding the investigation since April 15.

A representative for CVS confirmed its stores are currently limiting customers to three baby formula products per purchase. A Target representative said it currently had some online ordering limitations in place, but not at in-person stores.

Representatives for Amazon, Publix, Walmart and Walgreens did not immediately respond to requests for comment.