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Parents struggle to find baby formula amid shortages at local grocery stores

Baby formula shortage
Posted at 5:26 PM, Apr 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-15 18:32:50-04

APPLETON (NBC 26) — It's the latest shortage caused by the supply chain crisis - local grocery stores are experiencing a shortage of baby formula due to supply chain issues and a recent recall.

The shortage comes after Abbott Nutrition recalled select batches of formula such as Similac back in February. Since then, parents say it's been an uphill battle trying to find their preferred formula at local stores.

“It’s shocking to see how bare the shelves are, they might have a couple of cans of this brand, that brand but it’s slim pickings,” said Appleton resident Anthony Richter.

Richter has recently been searching for baby formula for his niece. His brother-in-law lives in Minnesota and has been using the formula Similac Pro-Advance but has been unable to find it at local stores. Richter posted to Facebook asking friends to search for it in other cities.

“I’ve been to Berlin, I’ve been to Oshkosh, I’ve been to Fond du Lac, wherever I am when I’m working I’m checking the stores and it's just not there," Richter said.

Parents say they're being forced to try alternative formulas after being unable to find their normal formula in stores.

"The baby formula shortage has been awful for us," said Appleton mother Katie Diedrick in a message to NBC 26. "My 8-month-old used Target Sensitivity since we brought her home and it’s been out of stock for months now and now every other store is out of any sensitive can too. We had to go to normal infant formula and it’s been awful for her."

Richter says his brother-in-law has just a couple weeks of formula left before he’ll have to look for alternatives.

“It’s stressful as a parent when you know you can get them the food that they’re happy on but you can’t find it,” Richter said.

The shortage has been stressful for grocers as well. Brandon Scholz, the president of the Wisconsin Grocers Association, says the shortage has been going on for months with the ongoing supply chain issues.

"When you have high consumer demand, production or supply has to keep up," Scholz said. "When that doesn't happen, two things occur. You have shortages on the shelves which is where people see it and you have some price increases that can occur. We have a workforce problem and until that gets back to the workforce levels we had back in 2019, we're going to continue with this challenge."

Scholz says customers will have to be patient with local grocery stores as manufacturers try to ramp up production.

“For grocers, all they can do is respond to consumer requests and go back to their supplier and see if it can be delivered," Scholz said. "If so, they’re going to do everything they can to get it on the shelves.”