From the base in Ramstein, Germany, the US military organizes an airlift of baby milk

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. On 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.

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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 lbs. [environ 32 tonnes] of formula milk and it’s about to land in Indiana,” announced Joe Biden 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 U.S. Transportation Command, the special infant formulas we need have arrived in the United States,” can we read in another message accompanied by a video showing American soldiers in camouflage uniforms, on the base of Ramstein, pushing gigantic boxes 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.

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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 milk. It has already made it possible to grant special authorizations so that two manufacturers, Abbott and Reckitt, take priority with their suppliers.

“We focused on efficiency to the point that we forgot the lessons of stability,” deplored the Secretary of Agriculture of the United States, Tom Vilsack, acknowledging that it was necessary to reconstitute more important production capacities. In the meantime, it is the army that comes to the rescue of the market failures of the world’s leading economic power.