In February 2022, American families faced a unique and unprecedented crisis of a nationwide baby formula shortage. The shortage began after one of the largest producers of baby formula in the U.S. had to close one of its key manufacturing plants because of product recalls. By May 2022, more than 40% of baby formula nationwide was out of stock, impacting our most vulnerable Americans. And the situation was even more serious for babies who needed medical formula.
As a B Corp, we’re always looking for ways to use our business as a force for good. And as one of the world’s largest producers of baby formula, we knew it was time to act. Over several months, Danone teams around the world came together, using our global capabilities to support babies and families in the U.S.
In June, we were proud to join the White House’s Operation Fly Formula, a joint effort between the Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the General Services Administration and the Department of Defense, to bring overseas infant formula to the U.S. As part of Operation Fly Formula, we assessed how best we could help across our various formula varieties.
First, we understood the crisis for families needing hypoallergenic formula and product tailored to specific nutritional needs was especially serious. Our Nutricia business stepped up to import more than 500,000 cans of Neocate, a hypoallergenic product for tiny patients with food allergy-related conditions. We also introduced Pepticate, a formula for babies with cow’s milk allergy that had never been sold in the U.S., committing nearly 1 million cans.
For broader consumption, we arranged to bring over 1.3 million cans of Aptamil – Danone’s No. 1 formula in the U.K. and Europe – to the U.S. from Ireland and New Zealand. Because Aptamil was unfamiliar to American families at the time, our team moved quickly to create a website and Instagram presence to help educate consumers about the brand and where to buy it.
Our Happy Family Organics team – maker of the first organic baby formula in the U.S. – began working around the clock to increase production to meet consumer needs.
In addition to helping get products on store shelves, we created operationformulaforfamilies.com to provide families with the latest information and resources on baby formula.
Starting with our first Operation Fly Formula shipment that arrived in Chicago in June, by the end of 2022 we helped provide more than 1.8 million cans of formula to the U.S. In total and with Danone and other partners, Operation Fly Formula completed 74 flights and imported more than 97.9 million 8-ounce bottle equivalents of infant formula through the end of September 2022*.
“This continues to be a powerful example of our teams around the world putting our mission into action – to bring health through food to as many people as possible.”
- Shane Grant, Deputy CEO, Americas, EVP Essential Dairy, Plant-Based & Sales