New Jersey Enters State of Emergency Amid Nationwide Baby Formula Crisis


The baby formula section at Preakness CVS, Wayne NJ | Photo: Sasha Budesa

By Sasha Budesa, Staff Writer

New Jersey entered a State of Emergency on Tuesday, May 17th, in an effort to prevent price gouging of infant formula amid a nationwide shortage.

Price gouging is an unethical business practice in which the price of a good or service is raised to an exorbitant level far beyond what is considered reasonable or fair. Price gouging attempts to exploit the increased demand for certain necessities – in this case, infant formula – during a disaster or emergency.

The declared State of Emergency allows New Jersey to activate anti-price gouging laws as well as more effectively coordinate emergency relief efforts to alleviate the crisis.

The infant formula shortage is not alone, rather, it is a continuation in a series of ongoing shortages around the world.

Starting in 2021, a lack of available labor and raw materials due to the COVID-19 pandemic caused severe supply chain disruptions, and infant formula was not immune.

The problem exploded when Abbott Labs, who produces 40% of the formula sold in the United States, shut down it’s Sturgis, Michigan production facility due to bacterial contamination, which caused illness in four children.

As most infant formula – 98% – is produced domestically, even just one plant shutdown can cause massive disruption. Combined with the ongoing supply chain issues, it quickly became a recipe for disaster.

Chayse Buckley, a senior at Wayne Hills with a sister who has two small children, commented on the shortage, saying, “Birth rates are declining, and there’s a dwindling domestic supply of infants . . . human existence is capitalized on by the wealthy and their main focus is profit.”

As of May 27th, almost 40% of infant formula is out of stock in the country. New Jersey is among the hardest hit states in the nation.

Government bodies are pursuing methods such as easing import restrictions and ramping up production to help alleviate the shortage.

The baby formula shortage is still expected to last for at least another month. In the meantime, the government advises against parents making their own formula or using alternatives, and recommends looking in smaller stores or online charities and marketplaces for available formula.

Consumers may file a complaint of price gouging at