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Pittsburgh Parents Struggling To Find Baby Formula Amid Worsening Shortage

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Finding certain baby formulas in stores has become more of a challenge, which is creating stressful situations for some parents.

Throughout the pandemic, grocery stores have struggled to keep certain products in stock from toilet paper and hand sanitizer to cream cheese and chicken. Now, there is a shortage of select infant formulas.

Some grocery store managers told KDKA this is happening because of supply chain challenges and manufacturer limitations. This has sent some parents on panicked searches.

"My husband and I went to about five to six different CVS's and two different targets and we went to two Walmart's," said Alyssa Silvis.

She's feeling frustrated. She had to go to so many places in and around Cranberry Township to find the one formula her 8-month-old baby boy drinks.

"My son is on the Similac Ready-to-Feed bottles. I believe they are 32 ounces, and we were only able to find two bottles in all those stores," she said.

Luckily, her son is starting to switch over to solids, but he still drinks 32 ounces of the specific Similac formula each day.

Some stores in the Pittsburgh area are having a tough time getting certain kinds of Similac. Inside Kuhn's on McKnight Road, there are a few empty spaces on the baby formula shelves. Kuhn's on Highwood Street is in better shape. The manager said they are doing better than larger stores, but they have had some challenges keeping a few baby items in stock.

"Definitely with our PediaSure, there's been issues getting some of those in. Pedialyte has been hard to get as well. I think popularity with it, for adults as well, as for children. The one can of Similac condensed formula is on short supply, harder to get in for other stores," said Mark Nelko, store manager at Kuhn's on Highwood Street.

Other grocery stores are feeling the impacts of the shortage, including Giant Eagle. A spokesperson said, "At Giant Eagle, we continue to work tirelessly to keep our shelves well-stocked with essential grocery and household items as we navigate the many challenges currently facing the grocery industry. Like many areas throughout the supermarket, the availability of select infant formula has been impacted by supply chain challenges and manufacturer limitations. As the situation continues to evolve, we will continue to adapt and work closely with our supply partners to meet the needs of our guests with the products that are available."

According to a market research firm, infant formula inventories at stores in mid-January were down 17 percent from where they were in mid-February 2020.

"Anytime there is an empty hole, understand that we are ordering everything, every time we write an order, we just have to be patient and wait for it to come in," Nelko said.

Silvis said ordering baby formula online isn't an easy fix because prices were up online when she last looked, which is causing even more worries.

"Stressful, you're worried about feeding your child but at the end of the day we will go wherever we have to go and pay whatever we have to pay. I mean, it's just hard, especially these specialty formulas where you don't always have the luxury to swap in and out of brands or types of formula," said Silvis.

Doctors advise parents having a hard time finding a specific formula their baby drinks to reach out to their pediatrician and ask for advice about what they should switch to.

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