The war in Ukraine, inflation, the questioning of the right to abortion, migratory pressure on the Mexican border: the Biden administration is in permanent crisis management. But surely she hadn’t planned to add baby milk powder to that list. The United States is indeed faced with a spectacular shortage of this product, with a stock-out rate estimated at 43% last week. In the media, the testimonies of parents in distress accumulate, drawing a picture usually reserved for developing countries, rather than for American power.
On May 12, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki even began her daily briefing with this subject, before being pressed with questions by journalists. The room for maneuver is limited, and the shortage is likely to last. In addition to increased imports, which are not a given due to the international supply chain crisis, the top priority of the Biden administration is to “reduce paperwork”, explained Jen Psaki. US President Joe Biden has spoken with retail bosses Walmart and Target to try to smooth deliveries, especially in rural areas.
Powdered milk has become a subject of speculation, with online prices skyrocketing. State attorneys general are encouraged to consider “predatory behavior” on the market. “We don’t want parents, mothers, families to be stressed and worried about feeding their babies,” said Jen Psaki. It’s the case. The psychological dimension of the crisis is as important as that of production. “What we’re seeing, which is a huge problem, is that people are stocking up, explained the spokesperson. People do it because they’re scared, that’s one aspect of it, but some people stockpile because they’re trying to profit from scared parents. »
The crisis has been brewing for months, and it is particularly agonizing for poor families, with low salaries and sometimes without medical insurance, unable to choose breastfeeding. In the United States, about one in four mothers breastfeeds her child until six months, with the others choosing powdered milk, at least in part. The cost of this expense is considerable, over $1,000 in the first year. Specific infant milks – for example in case of serious allergies – have become a luxury commodity, the price of a box sometimes exceeding one hundred dollars.
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