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Biden meets virtually with baby formula makers to ease shortage

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Yahoo Finance's Anjalee Khemlani examines President Biden's remarks to baby formula manufacturers as Operation Fly Formula continues to import baby formula to the U.S. in an attempt to alleviate the strain of the shortage.

Video Transcript

DAVE BRIGGS: The attention may have faded, but the nation's baby formula shortage is far from over. By some standards, it's even worse. And that's why President Biden is hosting a roundtable as we speak with formula manufacturers from around the country today. Anjalee Khemlani is here with the latest. Anjalee, first, there were EV meetings at the White House minus Elon Musk. And now we have a formula meeting without Abbott Nutrition, who really got us into this entire mess. Do we have any idea why they're not there?

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: No, we have some guesses. We did not get any clarification from the White House nor from Abbott, who we did reach out to for a request for comment. No response there. But we did-- they're not entirely not at the meeting. We did hear the president actually talk about what caused the shortage and give kudos to the fact that they are taking their time to get back online. So just listen to what he had to say earlier.

JOE BIDEN: The last thing we should ever do is allow unsafe formula to be sold to parents. Instead, we should increase the production of safe formula to make every American family so they can get what they need for their child. That's the approach we've taken. The Food and Drug Administration acted quickly to bring Abbott back into compliance with safety standards. But it takes time. Abbott accounts for about 40% of the overall infant formula market in the United States. And this factory was one of their leading plants. So, since February, my administration has been working diligently across to every spectrum we could find.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: So, as you can hear, the administration really touting their efforts, both with Operation Fly Formula, as well as the Defense Production Act being invoked. A lot of effort there for all of these companies to the ones being invited to this roundtable. And that isn't just the US formula makers, but also global ones. And that includes Reckitt Benckiser.

We also know of Perrigo, which is the maker for the in-store brands for Walmart, Target, and Amazon, as well as Nestlé Gerber, Bubs Australia ByHeart, as well as Kendal, which is a UK formula maker that is also being flown in through Operation Fly Formula. We got word from the White House that Kendamil, for example, is going to be importing 300,000 pounds of their formula, and Bubs Australia, 380,000 pounds just this month. So a lot of that is really the focus right now of today's meeting, just getting the update, really.

We know that Reckitt, for example, just to point out, you heard the president talk about Abbott making up 40% of the market. Now Reckitt accounts for 56%, just based on this increase due to the lack of Abbott on the shelves. And they've been doing a lot to make sure that the formula is prioritized from the shipment centers to the stores, et cetera. So it's all in progress right now.

SEANA SMITH: Yeah, Anjalee, we talked to Brian Deese about the formula shortage yesterday, and he was making some comments just about the consolidation that we have seen in the industry and what and some of the changes that need to happen. But I'm curious, from your reporting that you've done from who you've talked to inside the industry, do we have any sort of timeline of when we could expect supply to be able to meet demand?

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: If you're talking specifically about Abbott, we know that we've heard their timeline, which points to probably mid-July or just July at some point. But when it comes to, broadly speaking, back up to-- I mean, we've already got such an influx of the formulas. We're probably going to see by the end of the month some increase in supply, just based on the thousands-- hundreds of thousands of pounds being flown in, not just this month, but also from last month as well.