How Enfamil's Owner Is Dealing With The Baby Formula Shortage

If you care for little ones, you're probably aware of how stressful it is trying to find baby formula these days. Between ongoing pandemic-related supply chain issues and the 2022 baby formula recall, stores have been struggling to keep the essential product on shelves, while (illegal) price gouging from third party sellers online has made the stuff practically worth its weight in gold.

Things have been especially difficult ever since major formula manufacturer Abbott had to temporarily close its Michigan plant for several months after reports of a bacteria contamination. Abbott produces more baby formula than any other company in the U.S., per CNBC, so its sudden removal from the supply chain was immediately felt nationwide. Per Bloomberg, in May, the out-of-stock rate for formula climbed from 45% to 74% in just two weeks, prompting cities like New York to declare a state of emergency

While experts have assured families that the baby formula shortage should end, infants across the country remain at risk from the stressful situation. It doesn't help that recent severe weather has forced Abbott to shut down its facilities less than two weeks after reopening, meaning it could be weeks before it can safely distribute formula at the rate it was before the recall (via NPR).

Despite this setback, some families may soon see relief. Mead Johnson, owner of formula brand Enfamil, just announced plans that should make baby formula much easier to get in the coming weeks.

Enfamil will import formula from international sources to increase its supply

In a June 15 announcement, Enfamil owner Mead Johnson shared that it received FDA approval to immediately begin shipping formula powder from its Singapore-based plant to one based in Minnesota from now until November to help accelerate production. The move comes as the government has decided to temporarily relax certain regulations on imported baby formula as part of emergency measures to combat the ongoing shortages. 

Per the FDA report, the current plan is to import 4.5 million pounds of powder over the next few months, which will produce the equivalent of 66 million 8-ounce bottles. Mead Johnson says that's enough to feed 130,000 babies per month.

This isn't Mead Johnson's only effort toward fighting the shortage. For the past few months, its U.K.-based parent company, Reckitt, has taken several steps to amp up its formula supply, including keeping its factories open 24 hours a day, giving employees unlimited overtime pay, and simplifying production, as well as collaborating with the FDA to open more manufacturing locations. Per Reuters, Reckitt shared that since implementing these changes, Mead Johnson has increased its formula production by 30%. Thanks to this upcoming import, Enfamil may be able to manufacture enough baby formula to help offset the shortage until its competitors can safely reopen.