President Joe Biden on Wednesday is slated to meet with executives from baby-formula makers, with the huddle coming as new data suggest that the country’s formula shortage is deepening.
An estimated 23% of powdered formula was out of stock in the week ended May 22 vs. 21% during the prior week, according to a Wall Street Journal report published on Wednesday that cited the latest figures from market-research firm IRI. The shortage is particularly hitting low-income families and states in the South and the Southwest, the report said.
Biden and other administration officials are scheduled to meet virtually with the formula execs around 2:30 p.m. Eastern to “discuss his administration’s progress to accelerate infant formula production and ramp up imports of formula through Operation Fly Formula,” the White House said in a statement. Operation Fly Formula refers to military flights of formula from Europe aimed at relieving a shortage that has sent parents scrambling.
The execs due to meet with the president are Tarun Malkani, CEO of Nestle’s
Gerber business; Murray Kessler, CEO of drug maker Perrigo
which has a unit that makes store-brand formulas; Robert Cleveland, Reckitt’s
senior vice president for its North American and European nutrition business; Kristy Carr, CEO and founder of Bubs Australia
; and Ron Belldegrun, CEO and co-founder of ByHeart.
No executives from Abbott
are slated to take part. The closure of that company’s infant-formula plant in Sturgis, Mich., after Food and Drug Administration officials found a potentially deadly bacteria there exacerbated existing shortages created by supply-chain problems during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other actions that the administration has taken due to the formula shortage include invoking the Defense Production Act and boosting imports by having the FDA exercise enforcement discretion with respect to certain requirements for formulas.
Separately, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is slated to give a speech on Wednesday announcing details of a U.S. Department of Agriculture framework that aims to transform the nation’s food system after the USDA said last year that it would put more than $4 billion toward strengthening supply chains.
Vilsack will talk up $2.1 billion in funding that’s intended to shore up weaknesses in the system exposed by the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to a Reuters report.