In the United States, the shortage of baby milk powder has taken on such dramatic proportions that the White House has made the cause a national priority, and mobilized the means of the army to deal with it. This weekend, a veritable milk airlift was set up between Germany and the United States. Sunday, May 22, the director of the National Economic Council, Brian Deese, confirmed on the CNN channel that a first military plane had taken off the day before from the American base of Ramstein, located in Rhineland-Palatinate, with on board a cargo of medical infant milk produced in Europe.

Last week Joe Biden launched a special operation, dubbed Operation Fly Formula. Since then, we can follow all the stages of this exceptional emergency plan on the American president’s Twitter account. “Friends, I am pleased to report that the first flight of Operation Fly Formula is loaded with over 70,000 pounds [approximately 32 tons] of baby formula and is about to land in the Indiana,” Joe Biden announced in a tweet on May 22 while in the middle of a trip to Asia.

“Operation Fly Formula is underway. Thanks to the teamwork of the men and women of US Transportation Command, the special infant formulas we need have arrived in the United States,” reads another message, along with a video showing American soldiers in camouflage uniforms, on the base of Ramstein, pushing gigantic crates inside a cargo plane.

Production difficulties

The shortage of infant formula in the United States is linked to the production difficulties of the Abbott Nutrition group, the country’s leading manufacturer. Abbott recalled several product lines after four infants fell ill, and two died, likely due to bacterial contamination. In February, a company plant in Michigan was temporarily shut down.

In addition to special military transport, justified by the absence of commercial planes capable of carrying out the transport during the weekend, Joe Biden activated a law planned for wartime, in order to revive the national production of infant formula. It has already made it possible to grant special authorizations so that two manufacturers, Abbott and Reckitt, have priority with their suppliers.

“We’ve focused on efficiency to the point that we’ve forgotten the lessons of stability,” said US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, acknowledging the need to rebuild more production capacity . In the meantime, it is the army that comes to the rescue of the market failures of the world’s leading economic power.