The scarcity of medical-grade infant formula caused by production issues and supply chain issues has created serious problems for thousands of parents whose infants depend on it, sending them into frantic searches for the product.
The cargo plane took off from the US Air Force Base in Ramstein, Germany, carrying more than 70,000 pounds of powdered mix, the White House said.
President Joe Biden tweeted about the flight from Japan, where he is on a five-day trip to Asia.
“Our team is working around the clock to provide a safe formula to anyone who needs it,” he said.
Biden tweeted an update later Sunday, saying more formula was on its way to the United States via a second shipment.
“We have secured a second flight to transport Nestlé specialty infant formula to Pennsylvania,” the president said.
“Theft and trucking will take place in the next few days, and I will continue to update you,” he said.
The first shipment will cover about 15% of immediate needs, presidential economic adviser Brian Deese told CNN.
He added that there were “more train robberies arriving early this week” as part of what the administration has dubbed “Operation Fly Formula.”
The formula was flown to Indiana as it is a hub for Nestlé, a major domestic producer. It will be subjected to quality tests in a nearby laboratory before being distributed.
The formula shortage has been building for months, compounded not only by supply chain issues related to the Covid-19 pandemic, but by the closure of America’s largest formula-making facility, a Michigan-owned factory. at Abbott Laboratories, amid fears the contamination could have led to the deaths of two infants.
“We had a manufacturer that didn’t follow the rules and made formula that risked making babies sick,” Deese said. “So we have to act.”
Another problem, he said, was that U.S. formula production had been concentrated in just three companies.
“We are going to have to work” on ways to increase competition, he said.
Abbott CEO Robert Ford apologized to consumers in a Washington Post op-ed on Sunday, saying, “We’re sorry to all the families we’ve abandoned since our voluntary recall exacerbated the baby formula shortage. in our country.”
Deese was asked separately about growing concerns that the US economy – hit by high inflation, supply chain issues and the war in Ukraine – could be heading into a recession.
“Well, there are always risks,” he said.
“But there’s no question that the United States is better positioned than any other major country in the world to fight inflation without giving up all the economic gains we’ve had.”
The US inflation rate hit a 40-year high of 8.5% in March, but slowed slightly in April to 8.3%.