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Baby formula shortage worsens; CVS, Target, Walgreens limit sales

  • Baby formula supplies have become more constrained, increasing out-of-stock percentage to 40% from 31% two weeks earlier.
  • The shortage has led retailers including CVS, Target and Walgreens to limit purchases of infant formula.
  • Shortages are even worse in some states: Tennessee, Texas, Missouri, Iowa, South Dakota and North Dakota face supply shortages higher than 50%.

The ongoing infant formula shortage isn’t over yet – and appears to be getting worse.

Nearly 40% of popular baby formula brands were sold out at retailers across the U.S. during the week starting April 24, according to an analysis by Datasembly, which assessed supplies at more than 11,000 stores. 

That’s up from an already-high out-of-stock percentage of 31% two weeks ago, Datasembly said.

Major retailers including CVS, Target and Walgreens are limiting the amount of formula shoppers can purchase.

Walgreens continues to limit shoppers to three infant and toddler formula products per transaction, Walgreens Boots Alliance spokesman Steve Cohen said. “Due to increased demand and various supplier challenges, infant and toddler formulas are seeing constraint across the country,” he said.

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The situation is the same at CVS, which limits three baby formula products per purchase in its stores and online, according to a statement to USA TODAY from CVS Health, which owns the pharmacy chain. “We’re continuing to work with our baby formula vendors to address this issue and we regret any inconvenience this causes our customers,” the statement continued.

Target is also limiting shoppers to up to four formula products at a time, the retailer told CBS News.

After recently visiting three different stores in one day last month, Elyssa Schmier, the vice president of government relations for advocacy group MomsRising,”all of a sudden realized my formula was nowhere to be found,” she told USA TODAY. “It’s almost a full-time job trying to find Similac.”

Infant formula recalls worsen situation

Federal safety inspectors say baby formula maker Abbott failed to maintain sanitary conditions at this Abbott Laboratories manufacturing plant in Sturgis, Mich.

Exacerbating the problem has been a voluntary recall Abbott Nutrition issued in mid-February recalling select batches of Similac, Alimentum and EleCare formulas made  in Sturgis, Michigan. That recall was expanded in late February to include one lot of Similac PM 60/40.

Subsequently, the Food and Drug Administration in March issued preliminary findings about the formula maker’s failure to maintain sanitary conditions and procedures at that plant.