The U.S. baby formula shortage has reached a critical point. With the out-of-stock rate for baby formula topping 43% this month, empty shelves have left parents struggling to feed their children and at least two babies have been hospitalized, CNN reports. The Biden administration announced Wednesday that it would invoke the Defense Production Act to ramp up formula production. But Northeastern experts say this is a late response to a crisis that is causing incalculable harm to the nation’s families—and that it should have been prevented.
How did we get to this point? It all started with COVID-19, says Nada Sanders, a distinguished professor at Northeastern’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business. The pandemic, along with the war in Ukraine, caused supply chain issues that led to some baby formula ingredients and packaging materials becoming less available.
“Then you throw in an event that’s pretty typical: A plant shuts down,” she says.