First shipment of baby formula arrives in Indiana as part of Operation Fly Formula, delivering 78,000 pounds of product from Switzerland with more on the way
- The first import of baby formula as part of Operation Fly Formula just arrived in the US.
- A military cargo plane carrying more than 70,000 pounds of formula touched down in Indiana on Sunday.
Operation Fly Formula's first shipment of baby formula has officially arrived in the US.
A military cargo plane carrying 78,000 pounds of infant formula touched down in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Sunday, part of an effort launched by the Biden administration to mitigate the nationwide shortage. The formula came from Switzerland and was first transported to Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where it was then flown to Indiana.
FedEx will move the formula to a Nestle distribution center nearby for a standard quality control check before it is distributed to hospitals, pharmacies, and doctor's offices, an administration official onsite said, according to the Associated Press.
—President Biden (@POTUS) May 22, 2022
President Biden launched Operation Fly Formula earlier this week to fast track the import of infant formula and get the product back on store shelves amid a dire formula scarcity in the US. The shortage, caused in part by supply chain challenges and product recalls, worsened last month prompting some families to take extreme measures.
While some more affluent parents resorted to purchasing formula on black market forums at a significant markup, others sought out substitutes or attempted to make their own homemade formula. Doctors have strongly discouraged these alternatives, noting that formula must adhere to specific standards to ensure proper digestion.
The shortage has also led to hospitalizations around the nation, as infants struggle with malnutrition. On Saturday, local outlets reported that four babies are seeking treatment at the Medical University of South Carolina for nutritional deficiencies related to the formula shortage.
Out-of-stock rates for formula reached 40% at US retailers by the end of April, up from 31% at the start of the month, according to grocery price tracking service Datasembly.
In total, Operation Fly Formula shipments will transport the equivalent of up to 1.5 million eight-ounce bottles of three Nestlé formulas: Alfamino Infant, Alfamino Junior, and Gerber Good Start Extensive HA. The products are all hypoallergenic formulas for children with cow's milk protein allergies.
According to The White House, these formulas are being prioritized because "they serve a critical medical purpose and are in short supply in the United States because of the Abbott Sturgis plant closure."
Sunday's shipment included 132 pallets of Alfamino Infant and Alfamino Junior, and 114 pallets of Gerber Good Start Extensive HA are expected to reach the US in the coming days.
Along with Operation Fly Formula, President Biden invoked the Defense Production Act earlier this week to ramp up domestic production of baby formula.
"We're proud to be able to make a difference in the lives of children and their parents and caregivers who are struggling to find formula right now due to the recent shortage," Nestlé CEO Mark Schneider said in a statement. "While more is on the way, our hope is that this progress gives concerned parents a little more comfort to know we are committed to doing all we can to support them during this time."
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