Hey there! You might be wondering about what’s going on with the infant formula at Target. You’re not alone. Across the country, parents are worried about a growing shortage of baby formula. Major retailers, like CVS, Walgreens, and yes, Target, have started limiting how much formula you can buy at once. Imagine going shopping and being told you can only buy a certain amount of baby food – that’s the reality right now.
It turns out, a lot of the formulas you see on shelves, whether it’s Target’s Up-and-Up, Walmart’s Parent’s Choice, Walgreens’ Well Beginnings, or Kroger’s Comforts for Baby, are all made by the same company – Perrigo Nutritionals. They’re kind of a big deal in the baby formula world.
Target is a major player here, with about 1,900 stores across the United States. The current formula crisis partly links back to issues with Abbott Laboratories, a huge name in infant formula production. They had to shut down one of their plants that made special formulas because of bacterial contamination – definitely not something you want in baby food. This happened almost 10 months ago and was a major blow, especially as it happened in the middle of the pandemic. It led to big issues with the supply chain in the U.S., turning into a crisis for formula availability nationwide.
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Is Target Up And Up Formula Out Of Stock?
Have you been to the grocery store lately and noticed that the baby formula section is looking a bit empty? You’re not the only one. Parents across the country, especially those in rural and low-income areas, are scrambling to find ways to feed their infants. It’s a tough situation, but there’s a bit of hope on the horizon. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is stepping up. They’ve issued new guidelines to make it easier to bring in baby formula from other countries and are also helping local manufacturers get their products on the market.
What’s Going On with Abbott Nutrition?
Here’s a bit of background: In February 2022, Abbott Nutrition recalled several types of their powdered baby formulas, including well-known brands like Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare, plus a medical formula called Similac PM 60/40. All these formulas were made at their plant in Sturgis, Michigan. Why the recall? Well, the FDA is looking into connections between babies who got sick with a bacterium called Cronobacter sakazakii after consuming formula made at this Abbott plant.
The Cronobacter Sakazakii Concern
Cronobacter sakazakii sounds like a mouthful, but it’s a bacterium that you don’t want anywhere near your baby’s food. It can be found in dry foods, including powdered infant formula, and can make babies, especially newborns, very sick. Thankfully, these infections are rare, but they can be severe.
In the U.S., infant formula has to be tested for Cronobacter and another nasty bug, Salmonella. While Abbott’s formulas didn’t test positive for Cronobacter, the bacterium was found in a part of their facility that didn’t directly contact the products. Still, not great news.
The Ongoing Formula Shortage
Despite all this, store shelves in the U.S. remain worryingly bare. According to market research by Information Resources, Inc., more than 20% of formula products were out of stock in the six weeks leading up to July 24. This shortage might be why you’re having trouble finding Target’s Up and Up formula.
Why Is Target Out Of The Formula?
Target’s Struggle with Formula Availability
You might be asking, “Why can’t I find baby formula at Target?” The New York Times sheds some light on this. Target, like many others, is putting limits on how much formula you can buy – but interestingly, this is only for online sales. In their stores, there’s no such limit. A Target spokesperson acknowledged the issue, saying they’re working hard with their formula distributors to fix it and apologizing for the inconvenience.
The Root of the Problem: Abbott Labs’ Facility Shutdown
So what caused this mess? A big part of it is due to a major production halt at Abbott Labs’ facility in Sturgis, Michigan. This plant, a key player in formula manufacturing, was shut down following a federal investigation into contaminated products that might have been linked to infant deaths. It’s a serious situation that’s had a ripple effect on formula availability.
Target Up And Up Formula Shortage
A Complex Shortage Situation
Why are we seeing empty shelves where baby formula should be? Ben Reich, the CEO of Datasembly, explains in a press release that it’s a mix of rising prices, supply chain issues, and product recalls. The situation varies by location and specific products. Some areas and types of formula are harder hit than others.
The Numbers Tell the Story
Here are some staggering statistics: As per Datasembly, a whopping 31% of baby formula products were out of stock across the U.S. in early April. In seven states – Connecticut, Delaware, Montana, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Texas, and Washington – the out-of-stock rates soared above 40%. Even though manufacturers are working at full tilt, they can’t keep up with the demand.
Light at the End of the Tunnel?
There’s a bit of good news, though. The Abbott plant got back in business on July 1, as reported by Reuters. But FDA Commissioner Robert Califf warned during a Senate hearing that fixing this shortage will take some time. And the FDA adds a bit of perspective: things aren’t as dire as they were at the peak of the shortage, when over 40% of all formulas were out of stock. As of November 20, about 12.5% of baby formula powder was out of stock nationwide, which is almost back to the levels seen before the shortage, according to IRI, a market research firm based in Chicago.
Does The Target Take Back Formulas?
Target’s 2022 Return Policy for Baby Formula
If you’re wondering whether you can return baby formula to Target, here’s the scoop. Starting in 2022, Target began allowing returns of baby formula in their stores, but there’s a time limit. For regular customers, you’ve got 90 days from the purchase date to make a return. If you’re a Target Circle or Red Card member, you get a bit more wiggle room – 120 days from when you bought it.
What You Need to Know About Returning Formula to Target
There are a few rules to keep in mind when returning baby formula to Target. First, make sure the formula is unopened and unused – that’s a must. If it’s opened or used, you’ll only get a partial refund. Also, if you don’t have a valid receipt, Target will refund you with store credit instead of cash.
FDA’s Stance on Returning Baby Formula
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has something to say about this too. They consider baby formula as a food product, which means it’s okay for stores to accept returns. But remember, each store might have its own policy, so it’s a good idea to check with your local Target or any other retailer before you head over to return your formula.
When looking for alternatives to the formula shortages, you might be tempted to try imported European formulas. But hold on a minute – there are some risks you should know about. According to an expert, the recall news doesn’t spread as quickly in the U.S. for European formulas as it does for American ones. Also, there’s a big difference in labeling requirements between the U.S. and Europe.
In the U.S., a formula labeled ‘hypoallergenic’ means it contains only completely broken-down milk proteins. This is crucial for babies with milk-protein allergies. But in Europe, ‘hypoallergenic’ formulas can have both intact and broken-down proteins. The intact proteins could trigger allergic reactions in some babies. So, if your baby needs a hypoallergenic formula, the European versions might not be a safe alternative to U.S. formulas.
Ben Reich, the founder, and CEO of Datasembly, highlights that the baby formula market is still facing big challenges. Inflation, supply chain disruptions, and product recalls are creating a lot of uncertainty. It looks like these issues will continue to affect the availability and choices of baby formula significantly.