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May 30, 2022

Bubs leads Antipodean charge to supply infant-formula to US

New Zealand dairy and infant-formula peers A2 Milk Co. and Fonterra are amongst those likely to follow suit.

By Andy Coyne

Bubs Australia has agreed an infant-formula supply deal with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help alleviate the country’s baby-nutrition shortage.

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New Zealand dairy and infant-formula peers A2 Milk Co. and Fonterra are amongst those likely to follow suit after submitting applications to the FDA to supply products to the US.

Manufacturers in Europe are already sending infant-formula supplies to the US to help the country cope with shortages on supermarket shelves that have been caused by the February recall of products from one of the nation’s main manufacturers, Abbott Laboratories. Abbott saw a facility in Michigan close amid concern over salmonella and cronobacter sakazakii infections in infants.

While Abbott has now been given the green-light to start manufacturing again at the plant, it will take several more weeks for supplies to hit grocers’ shelves.

To plug the gap, earlier this month, the FDA gave the thumbs-up to imports of infant-formula not usually sold there and US President Joe Biden authorised the Pentagon to use commercial aircraft to import supplies – a move it has called Operation Fly Formula.

Bubs has inked a deal with the FDA to ship at least 1.25m cans of its formula to the US. These include several varieties of its products such as stage 1 and 2 cans of Bubs Organic Grass Fed, Bubs Supreme A2 Beta-Casein Protein and Bubs Easy-digest Goat Milk. In total, the company will make at least 27.5m full-size, eight ounce bottles.

In an announcement on Friday (27 May), FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said: “Steps like the one the agency is taking today means more infant-formula will be available to parents and caregivers in the weeks and months ahead. We will not rest until our shelves are replete with safe and nutritious infant formula.”

Biden said in a Tweet on Friday: “I’ve got more good news: 27.5 million bottles of safe infant-formula manufactured by Bubs Australia are coming to the United States. We’re doing everything in our power to get more formula on shelves as soon as possible.”

Fonterra and A2 Milk Co., plus Australia’s Bellamy’s Organic, confirmed today (30 May) they had submitted applications to the FDA to supply baby-food to the country.

Meanwhile, news agency Reuters is reporting the shortage and the temporary removal of Abbott products from shelves has helped the UK’s Reckitt Benckiser, which is reportedly looking to sell its infant-formula assets, grab top spot in the market.

It told Reuters it now accounted for more than 50% of total baby-formula supply in US, up from around a third before the crisis.

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