EXCLUSIVE-Danone increases infant formula shipments to the United States – 05/20/2022 at 09:49

by Richa Naidu and Lisa Baertlein

LONDON/LOS ANGELES, May 20 (Reuters) – Danone DANO.PA has increased infant formula shipments to the United States, according to U.S. customs data and shipping consultancy Ocean Audit, which analyzed figures on sea ​​freight exclusively for Reuters.

Danone, the world’s second-largest formula maker but a relatively small player in the US market, shipped much of its products from the UK and the Netherlands by ocean freight, through its US subsidiary Nutricia North America .

The unprecedented shortage of infant formula in the United States began after the laboratory Abbott ABT.N recalled on February 17 dozens of types of formula, including Similac, Alimentum and EleCare, for suspected health failure.

Between January and May, Danone’s Nutricia division more than tripled its maritime imports into North America to more than 2.4 million boxes, 93% of which were delivered to the United States, said Steve Ferreira, chief executive. of Ocean Audit.

“We understand how important it is for families to have access to these specialist formulas, which is why our top priority has been to increase the production and supply of these medical formulas to serve the most vulnerable babies since the shortages emerged in February,” a Danone spokesperson said.

On May 10, three days before President Joe Biden announced measures to address the shortage of infant formula, the ship Independent Quest entered the port of Philadelphia with 42,000 boxes of Danone formula.

The milk was quickly shipped to Jeffersonville, Indiana, for distribution to retailers who for weeks had to ration their sales.

In terms of comparison, the data shows that Danone Nutricia sent nearly 770,000 boxes of formula to North America from January 1 to May 1, 2021, compared to 2.4 million boxes for the same period this year, according to Steve Ferreira.

Separate US customs data analyzed by Reuters shows that on February 22, five days after Abbott’s recall, nearly 38,000 kg of Danone Nutricia goods arrived in the US from the UK and the Netherlands.

The data does not specify the exact nature of the cargo, but describes some of it as “clinical nutrition powder” and “medical nutrition”.

On March 9, around 34,000 kg of additional goods arrived, followed by nearly 30,000 kg on March 30.

Reuters was unable to obtain data regarding Danone’s infant formula shipments by air freight.

(Reporting by Richa Naidu in London and Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; French version Elena Vardon, editing by Kate Entringer)

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