The White House said Monday it has organized the rapid importation of 330,000 pounds of baby formula from Australia to address ongoing shortages at retail stores across America.
The Biden administration’s Operation Fly Formula was announced in May to address these shortages, and the Australia mission is the 23rd operation conducted so far under the effort.
The latest effort involves two flights, one of which took place on Sept. 7 and another to occur on Sept. 16. Combined, the two flights will deliver the equivalent of 4.9 million 8-ounce bottles of Bellamy’s Organic Infant Formula to Dallas, Texas. The product will then be distributed to U.S. retailers.
By the time this latest mission is flown, Operation Fly Formula will have moved the equivalent of nearly 90 million 8-ounce bottles of formula to U.S. consumers.
Operation Fly Formula was launched after widespread reports of shortages in the months that followed the Food and Drug Administration’s decision in February 2022 to close an Abbott Nutrition production facility in Michigan, though the shortage had begun earlier because of supply chain problems. President Biden later acknowledged that he was unaware of supply problems until April and said, “I don’t think anyone anticipated the impact of the shutdown of one facility.”
Operation Fly Formula is a partnership between the Departments of Health and Human Services, Agriculture and Defense and the General Services Administration to avoid the normal importing procedures that can sometimes add weeks to the process of getting overseas product into the hands of U.S. consumers.
“Bypassing regular air freighting routes has cut a transportation process that typically takes three-four weeks down to approximately three days, speeding up the importation and distribution of formula and supporting families in the near-term as manufacturers continue to ramp up production,” the White House said.
The Biden administration also worked with Abbott to reopen the closed facility and released guidance allowing the speedy import of formula. The administration has also instructed the Federal Trade Commission to investigate any “price gouging” that may be occurring as the result of short supplies.