PHOENIX — “This is Niko, he's six months old. And that's CeCe, she's three years old,” Rachel Alexander is a Phoenix mother of two. She was once able to get Niko baby formula, but that recently changed.
“There was a recall in February and the formula he was on it was recalled,” says Alexander. “So, we had to, and we had like three cans of it. We had to get rid of all of it."
When Abbott Laboratories shut down because of FDA recalls, the plant decreased formula production in the U.S. It's now looking to restart operations soon.
Hitendra Chaturvedi, Arizona State University Supply Chain Management Professor says, “There are four players that control close to 90% of the market. So, if either one of them have a problem like what happened with Similac, in which there was a recall, 40% of the market gets impacted."
Abbott Labs makes Similac, a popular baby formula which is what Alexander relied on. She's now left scrambling and going store to store.
Even lawmakers are noticing. A house panel will hold a hearing on May 25th to examine the exact causes of the shortage.
“If the manufacturers can increase the production and there are only four of them, I think this problem should go away soon,” says Chaturvedi.
For now, the only formula Alexander can find for Niko is the most expensive brand. She says she ordered formula online, but it won't arrive for another month.
"It's stressful,” says Alexander. “I mean, on Saturday, I went to the store and literally the shelves were completely empty.”
With no end in sight, experts recommend not hoarding.
"It's very easy to preach, but I know what parents are going through and it's going to be extremely hard to practice and that could create make this problem worse,” says Chaturvedi.
They also say to never make your own baby formula.