retail news in context, analysis with attitude

•  The New York Times writes that "Abbott Nutrition, the company that fueled a national shortage of baby formula when it shut down a leading production plant in February because of contamination concerns, said on Saturday that the site has restarted producing EleCare and other formulas.

"The restarting of the plant in Sturgis, Mich., which was the result of an agreement with the federal Food and Drug Administration, renewed hope that the formula shortage that has sent stressed parents scrambling would ease.

"Out-of-stock rates had soared to about 74 percent at stores across the country as of the week ending May 28, according to Datasembly, which tracks retail data. The crisis, which had been building for months and stems from pandemic supply issues, was worsened by the plant’s closure."



•  National Public Radio (NPR) reports that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has "unveiled $2 billion in new funding to strengthen food supply chains hard hit by the pandemic, causing food shortages and higher prices … The new funding is made available through the March 2021 COVID relief package, the American Rescue Plan and other relief legislation.

"The pandemic and ensuing inflation caused by supply chain disruptions and Putin's war against Ukraine underscores the difficulty of providing healthy and nutritious food for all when markets are disrupted," Vilsack said. "The pandemic also exposed for us how many food banks and pantries had difficulty accepting fresh fruit and vegetables and dairy products due to a lack of warehouse and refrigeration capacity."

NPR notes that "the pandemic also highlighted major bottlenecks in the food supply chain as meatpacking plants were forced to close and slow production due to workers getting sick, the transportation industry faced additional labor shortages and input costs for farmers rose."