White House and FedEx move to address baby formula shortage

Photo (c) Ksenia Sandulyak - Getty Images

President Biden says the government is ready to provide further assistance if needed

The baby formula shortage is getting some much-needed relief thanks to the White House and FedEx. The assistance is part of the “Operation Fly Formula” effort, a Biden administration initiative that is designed to get as much baby formula on store shelves as soon as possible.

It’s been a busy week for FedEx’s network of long-haul pilots and express truck drivers. On Sunday, the company delivered its first airlift of formula – 114 pallets of Gerber Good Start Extensive HA that was flown in from Ramstein Air Base in Germany. On Wednesday, another FedEx plane flew from Germany with an additional 100,000 pounds – or about 1 million 8-ounce bottles – of Gerber formula. The shipment was offloaded and moved onto FedEx Express trucks for transport to a Nestle distribution center in Pennsylvania.

FedEx stated that it remains engaged with the Biden administration to provide logistics and transportation support as needed for Operation Fly Formula.

Transporting formula quickly

FedEx is involved with the effort because the USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have the authority to use Department of Defense-contracted commercial aircraft to pick up formula overseas and bring it to the U.S. 

“Our network was designed for missions like this – to move time-sensitive shipments safely and quickly,” said Gina Adams, Senior Vice President for Government and Regulatory Affairs, at FedEx. “The FedEx Express integrated air and ground network expedited the movement of baby formula from manufacturers overseas to the United States for distribution to retail locations and hospitals throughout the country. We’re proud to be working with the U.S. government and our healthcare customers to help alleviate this crisis.”

"Typically, the process to transport this product from Europe to the U.S. would take two weeks,” explained White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. “Thanks to Operation Fly Formula, we cut that down to approximately three days. This is a testament of the president's commitment to pulling every lever to get more infant formula onto the market."

The White House is prepared to do more

President Biden has said he will direct his administration to take whatever actions are deemed necessary to ensure there is enough safe infant formula for U.S. families.

His options include invoking the Defense Production Act, entering into a consent agreement with the FDA to reopen Abbott Nutrition’s Sturgis facility, and issuing guidance to permit major formula manufacturers to import formula that is not currently being produced for the U.S. market.

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