There is a shortage of infant formula in the U.S. that has implications for the Canadian market. The shortage can be traced to reasons starting with the pandemic, which disrupted supply chains and shipping of ingredients used in infant formula, leading to labour shortages (1,2). Shortage of infant formulas for infants with food allergies and certain medical conditions is of particular concern as there are fewer opportunities for formula substitutions.
Issues of panic buying and hoarding have led to the supply of these products not meeting the demand for more formula. There was a major recall of powdered infant formula in February 2022 due to reports of bacteria (Cronobacter sakazakii) infection, further straining supply (3). Further complicating supply issues are the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) regulations and labelling requirements, which make it difficult to purchase formula from other countries (1,2).
There are other issues outside of U.S. supply that are also affecting access to formula and its safe usage. These include emergency situations such as flooding, wildfires and tornados (4). A global rise in food costs
is also threatening food security.
Despite the large infant formula shipment to the U.S., Bubs Australia, a large supplier of formula, has assured Australian consumers that “it has supply to satisfy demand both in Australia and the United States (8),” and supply will remain unchanged.
With the plant closure in the U.S., infant formulas designed for infants with food allergies and certain medical conditions (amino acid-based and extensively hydrolyzed infant formulas) are in short supply in Canada (9). The Government of Canada has created an interim policy to facilitate the importation of equivalent and safe infant formulas from the U.S. and Netherlands (8) until December 2022. The list of products is available in Appendix A of the interim policy.
In the U.K., suppliers are providing the U.S. with additional infant formulas as trade policies allow (6).
Recommendations from U.S. and Canadian governments for consumers include (5,10,11):