May 20, 2022 - News

Baby formula shortage hits Texas harder than much of U.S.

Data: Datasembly; Chart: Baidi Wang/Axios

The baby formula shortage has left shelves bare in Central Texas.

Driving the news: The scarcity is largely due to supply chain challenges linked to the pandemic and product recalls. New data shows that more than half of Texas' expected formula stock was absent from shelves the week of May 1, according to Datasembly, a retail software company.

A cursory check of local stores indicates this is being felt in Central Texas.

  • The baby food section at the H-E-B on Oltorf and South Congress on Monday afternoon had a few jugs and cans of formula available — some behind security shields — but mostly the shelves were bare.
  • H-E-B is limiting the amount of baby formula that can be purchased per customer.

At stake: Baby formula has become an unlikely political cudgel.

  • Last week, Gov. Greg Abbott called it "shameful" that the Biden administration was providing formula to kids whose parents may have crossed the border illegally.
  • "While mothers and fathers stare at empty grocery store shelves in a panic, the Biden Administration is happy to provide baby formula to illegal immigrants coming across our southern border," Abbott said in a statement.
  • Yes, but: The federal government is required to provide food and water to migrant children detained at the border, part of a settlement in a class-action lawsuit from 1997.

What they're saying: A Cedar Park mother told KVUE she had to drive an hour to get a few cans of formula for her dairy-intolerant twins.

  • "I often will call about 10 different H-E-Bs trying to find ones that have got their stock in, and usually none of them do," Hannah Wilson said. "Occasionally I'll find one but I often … have to drive up to an hour away to be able to get that formula. It's been kind of heartbreaking, to say the least."

What's next: More formula will hit shelves "within days … but it will be a few weeks until we’re back to normal," the head of the FDA told U.S. House members Thursday.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Austin.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Austin stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Austin.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more