(NewsNation) — Shelves wiped clean of baby formula is a sight now commonly documented. A shortage in the U.S. is driving parents to swap, sell and offer leftover supplies to each other.
Parents across the country are turning to public health agencies and organizations such as milk banks for help. Others are having family members ship formula from stores across the country.
“It’s like a hurricane when there’s no gas stations open,” one mother told NewsNation.
Creative solutions are also popping up, such as Facebook groups dedicated to parents searching for specific supplies.
Amber Sanders is a mother who is struggling to get what she needs for her baby, so she started a Facebook group to help other moms get formula.
“For me when creating the Facebook group, you know, I didn’t know it was going to spread like it did. But it has definitely helped, like, especially for my state, it has helped … families come together so it is not so hard for them to find a formula or have to have it shipped to them,” Sanders said.
Some 30 percent of U.S. formula comes from China. That, paired with a recall from Abbott Labs in the U.S., supply chain delays and inflation are all elements compounding the problem.
Some mainstream stores have now started rationing baby formula, putting it behind plastic barriers to protect from theft.
Retail analyst Kristen Bensi anticipates price gouging will soon become widespread.
“I think you’re going to start seeing it online first, just like with COVID, people had ordered hand sanitizer and toilet paper and were selling it online,” Bensi said.
While some are hoarding formula for use, others are hoarding it to make a bigger profit off sales, posing major challenges in the marketplace.
Thursday, the U.S. government announced a three-pronged approach to provide relief, cutting red tape to get formula on shelves more quickly, cracking down on price gouging and increasing supply by expediting imports.
“Our message to parents is: We hear you, we want to do everything we can and we’re going to cut every element of red tape to help address this and make it better for you to get formula on the shelf,” a White House representative said in response to the shortage.
While there’s no certainty when parents may see some relief, the expert NewsNation spoke with says it will likely be at least six to 12 months.