Dairy companies in Australia and New Zealand are queueing to restock empty shelves in the US with baby food, after the country recently relaxed its import policy to mitigate one of the biggest infant formula shortages in recent history.
New Zealand’s dairy giants Fonterra and A2 Milk, privately-run Australian firms Bellamy’s Organic, and Nature One Dairy confirmed on Monday they had submitted applications to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for supplying baby food to the country.
This followed fellow Antipodean firm Bubs Australia inking a deal with the FDA to ship at least 1.25 million cans of its formula. Shares in A2 Milk closed more than 10 per cent higher, while Bubs Australia shot up 40 per cent.
“I’ve got more good news: 27.5 million bottles of safe infant formula manufactured by Bubs Australia are coming to the United States,” President Joe Biden said in a Tweet on Friday.
“We’re doing everything in our power to get more formula on shelves as soon as possible.”
The US baby food shortage was triggered when Abbott Laboratories, the biggest US supplier of powder infant formula including Similac, in February recalled dozens of products after reports of serious bacterial infections in four infants.
Abbott was on track to reopen its key baby formula plant in Michigan within one or two weeks, although FDA commissioner Robert Califf told lawmakers a week later it would take until July before store shelves across the country were filled.
“In light of the current situation and revised FDA guidance, we have submitted an application to the FDA for approval to supply finished infant formula to parents in the US,” Fonterra, the world’s biggest dairy producer, said in an emailed statement.
Emergency supplies from Europe arrived earlier last week after the Biden administration decided to urgently meet nationwide shortages by relaxing import rules.
- Reporting by Harish Sridharan and Rushil Dutta in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Rashmi Aich, of Reuters.