YONKERS, Westchester County (WABC) -- Some relief came for Westchester County residents suffering from the infant formula shortage as the first shipment of more than 11,000 units arrived at Stew Leonard's Friday.
Yonkers officials were joined by Stew Leonard, Jr., to make the announcement that the shipment arrived from Puerto Rico and was stocked on the shelves at the store.
The supply of Similac Alimentum is limited and will be available in the store beginning Saturday, June 11.
Officials said 69% of New York stores were experiencing baby formula shortages as of late May, amidst a nationwide shortage of the essential product among those with infants and babies, according to recent reports.
The nationwide shortage of baby formula products has left parents in a frenzy, many investigating alternative solutions to feed their children.
President Joe Biden announced steps to help suppliers fill the supply gap on May 12, including more product importing, simplifying product sizes to expedite production and distribution, and calling on the FTC and State Attorneys to focus on eliminating unfair market practices that may take advantage of the shortage.
The shortage is multifaceted and is thought to have its roots in the COVID-19 pandemic, coincidentally worsened by Abbott Nutrition's recall.
The pandemic caused supply chain shortages for many goods globally, and the shockwaves are still reverberating. Factory lines are often short-staffed due to repetitious waves of new COVID variants or closed entirely to quell outbreaks. Simultaneously, consumers are buying more either due to boredom or due to government stimulus. These two factors set many industries behind that can't catch up.
To make matters worse, the baby formula industry is highly monopolized, which leaves it vulnerable to shortages. Three domestic companies, Abbott, Gerber, and Reckitt, manufacture almost all baby formula sold in America.
Abbott itself accounts for about 40% of this market. So when Abbott shut down its largest factory to investigate concerns of bacterial infections following the death of two infants (both tested positive for strains of Cronobacter sakazakii), formula shortage quickly reached a crisis level.
U.S. trade policy makes it incredibly difficult to outsource baby formula from other countries. Derek Thompson of The Atlantic noted that President Donald Trump's agreement with the North American trade agreement hinders formula importing from Canada.
Further, foreign formula companies that meet FDA standards are still restricted, taxed over 17% in some cases. European formula that is often found to exceed FDA standards is banned for simple labeling technicalities.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)
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