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Biden asks Walmart, Target, manufacturers to ease baby formula shortage

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Abbott will import products from Ireland.

WASHINGTON — President Biden Thursday asked retailers and manufacturers, including Walmart, Target, Reckitt, and Gerber, to do more to help families purchase infant formula.

He discussed Reckitt and Gerber’s efforts to increase production to make up for lost supply from Abbott, and asked them to identify other ways the administration can help them.

The conversation with Walmart and Target focused on how they are working to stock shelves, including in rural areas, and any regional disparities they are seeing.  And the president asked what more his team can do to help move product and get more product to those communities.  He also announced additional steps to get infant formula onto store shelves as quickly as possible without compromising safety.

These steps include cutting red tape to by urging states to provide consumers flexibility on the types of formula they can buy with WIC dollars; calling on the FTC and state attorneys general to crack down on any price gouging or unfair market practices, like third-party sellers reselling formula at steep prices; and increasing the supply of formula through increased imports.

The shortage is expected to drag on for months as the government and retailers tackle a decline in production dating to February. That’s when Abbott, the nation’s largest manufacturer of formula, had to shut down its plant in Sturgis, Mich., because of worries over bacterial contamination. The Food and Drug Administration advised against purchasing three types of formula from the plant.

Abbott, which produces Similac formula, said it is importing products from its factory in Ireland as it seeks to have the FDA allow it to restart the Michigan plant. But the company said it would take weeks for the imports to reach U.S. store shelves.

Many retailers coping with the shortage have strictly limited purchases.


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