The US government will fly in baby formula on commercial planes contracted by the military in an airlift aimed at easing the major shortage plaguing the country, the White House said on Wednesday.
The Department of Defense “will use its contracts with commercial air cargo lines, as it did to move materials during the early months of the Covid pandemic, to transport products from manufacturing facilities abroad that have met Food and Drug Administration safety standards,” the White House said.
“Bypassing regular air freighting routes will speed up the importation and distribution of formula and serve as an immediate support as manufacturers continue to ramp up production,” it said, dubbing the effort “Operation Fly Formula.”
US President Joe Biden has also invoked the Defense Production Act to give baby formula manufacturers first priority in supplies.
“Directing firms to prioritise and allocate the production of key infant formula inputs will help increase production and speed up in supply chains,” the White House said.
Families around the US have grown increasingly desperate for formula amid a perfect storm of supply chain issues and a massive recall.
The average out-of-stock rate for baby formula hit 43% earlier this month, according to Datasembly, which collected information from more than 11,000 retailers.