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Biden to meet with CEOs of baby-formula makers as shortage worsens – News Opener

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.

Related: Baby-food sales surge amid the baby-formula shortage, as more parents consider transitioning babies out of the milk phase sooner

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
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Gerber business; Murray Kessler, CEO of drug maker Perrigo
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which has a unit that makes store-brand formulas; Robert Cleveland, Reckitt’s
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senior vice president for its North American and European nutrition business; Kristy Carr, CEO and founder of Bubs Australia
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; and Ron Belldegrun, CEO and co-founder of ByHeart.

No executives from Abbott
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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.

Related: House lawmakers take on baby-formula shortage: ‘We expect answers from the FDA, Abbott’

And see: Biden’s rare inflation meeting with Powell may serve to ‘deflect blame back to the Fed’

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.

U.S. stocks
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lost ground Wednesday as a new month kicked off. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 both gained less than 0.1% in May.

Now read: ‘It’s pure panic’: Florida parents of twins spent more than 4 hours driving to find baby formula

Also: Biden on baby-formula shortage: ‘There’s nothing more urgent we’re working on than that right now’

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