In recent months, many products have been disappearing from the shelves of our French supermarkets. Sunflower oil, wheat, eggs, Nutella, instead of milk!
The war in Ukraine and the announced period of drought are elements that are disrupting the import and production of many products. If sunflower oil or flour is lacking, a shortage of milk could also be expected in France in the near future.
A shortage of milk to be expected in France?
French milk producers are seeing their production costs strongly impacted by the increase in the price of electricity, cardboard and transport. The situation of milk producers, considered the most difficult in the agricultural world, implies sacrifices for French producers. Due to loss-making sales by breeders, a shortage of milk is expected soon in France.
In an article in Les Echos, the vice-president of Syndilait said that the situation was very complicated for farmers to manage at the moment:
We are going to have difficult awakenings, predicts Eric Forin, the president of Syndilait.
The price of milk has increased by 1.5% when it would take a 20% increase to erase the inflation of electricity, cardboard, plastic, transport. The organization therefore fears many disgusted breeders leaving.
As a reminder, France has approximately 3.7 million dairy cows and 62,000 dairy farms. A figure which has been in real constant decline in recent years, which would imply a very sharp drop in milk production for the year 2022.
A large-scale milk crisis in the United States
After being raised on milk then hay and pellets, here are the 2021s that are in the meadow.
They will only eat grass (pasture or wrapping) until their first calf between 24 and 28 months! pic.twitter.com/aSuChvAWkU
— Antoine Thibault (@AgriSkippy) May 3, 2022
The shortage affects many daily food products in France. If milk in France is set to disappear due to production costs that are too high for producers, a serious shortage of this product is also occurring in the United States.
On the other side of the Atlantic, the sudden disappearance of powdered milk affects the whole of the United States. More than 40% of inventory is said to be sold out in at least 11,000 stores in six states. Iowa, Missouri, Texas, South Dakota, North Dakota and Tennessee don’t even have half of those products anymore.
As a reminder, no less than 75% of infants over the age of six months usually receive at least part of their diet in the form of powdered milk in the United States.
Shortage of infant formula in the United States: a summary of all the crises of the moment
Photos of empty supermarket shelves have flooded social media, as young parents recount their endless journeys from Target to CVS (two American supermarket chains) to find the Holy Grail.
I have two children. I can’t find their powdered milk anywhere and I’m willing to pay cash for anything you can find, wrote on eBay Ashley Hernandez, a Texas resident whose children also need a very specific milk for health reasons.
Every day, we receive testimonies from parents who are anxious, angry and above all very scared because the health of their children is at stake, said Brian Dittmeier, one of the leaders of the national association WIC (Women Infant Children). , an organization that supports the poorest families.
In the United States, 75% of infants over six months receive at least part of their diet in the form of powdered milk, according to the Axios website. This shortage could therefore leave traces if it continues, which could have an impact on the development of children, indicates CNN.
Should the prices of basic products (butter, milk, etc.) be blocked?
— BFM Business (@bfmbusiness) May 9, 2022
From pandemic to inflation.
A situation that has not escaped the politicians, especially in the Republican camp. Several of them called on the Biden administration to treat this shortage as a national crisis, while urging the president, in a clever mix of genres, to reduce financial support for Ukraine in order to free up funds for mothers. Americans.
Even some Democrats, like Iowa Rep. Abby Finkenauer, have called on the administration to do more. They called on the government to use the Defense Production Act – a law that allows the government to force companies nationwide to manufacture certain products first – to overcome the shortage.
The situation has only worsened over the past year. In the spring of 2021, powdered milk still appeared to be just one product in a long list of products affected by supply chain failures due to the pandemic. While most of the big milk powder brands – Nestlé, Reckitt, Abott – manufactured their products locally for the American market, they nevertheless relied on certain ingredients or packaging boxes imported from China or elsewhere, points out the Wall StreetJournal.
🇷🇼 In Rwanda, milk is a national treasure. Its consumption has exploded over the past 20 years. So much so that specialized establishments have multiplied in the capital.@France2tv
🎥 Report by N. Bertrand, L. Chaussoy, F. Fougère and T. Pham-Hung pic.twitter.com/cBrWCyyKeH
– France TV Africa (@France2Afrique) May 5, 2022
At the time, only 10% of milk powder stocks were sold out. But if the shortages of other products in the United States – computer chips, textiles – have not worsened, this is not the case for infant formula. By January 2022, 20% of products had become unavailable.
It is no longer just tensions in the supply chain that are at work, but also the specter of inflation, spurred by rising energy prices partly due to what was then still than the crisis in Ukraine.
Why has the availability of powdered milk been particularly affected by inflation? Powdered milk is often less substitutable than other products, so families tend to stock up when they expect prices to spike, says The Guardian. It seems manufacturers have been caught off guard by this milk powder rush.
Through a health scandal
This shortage has also particularly affected the poorest populations because the laboratory, exclusive supplier of the dispensaries where the free doses of milk powder are distributed, found itself at the center of a health scandal.
The Abbott Nutrition group was indeed forced to organize a massive recall of several product lines from mid-February. This American laboratory, which, in addition to its collaboration with clinics, markets some of the most popular children’s milk in the United States, found itself singled out by the health authorities following the discovery of a possible link between their products. and four cases of hospitalized children, two of whom died.
The liter of milk will be more and more often sold more than 1 euro per litrehttps://t.co/BoDtFSOvIE pic.twitter.com/Y8f4RA6bUg
— BFMTV (@BFMTV) May 10, 2022
These children had been infected with a very specific bacterium cronobacter which can, in certain rare cases, cause very dangerous infections for young people such as meningitis or severe inflammation, notes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Traces of this bacterium have been detected in one of Abbott Nutrition’s factories in Sturgis (Michigan) by the FDA. In a report published in March, the agency concluded that the laboratory had not applied the necessary hygiene measures at its infant milk manufacturing site.
The scandal only escalated when multiple outlets revealed in mid-April that a whistleblower had already informed the FDA of the hygiene lapses at the Sturgis plant six months before the discovery. Cronobacter infections.
Abbott Nutrition disputed the FDA’s findings and blamed the whistleblower’s claims on the resentment of a terminated former employee. Nevertheless, the laboratory followed the recommendations of the FDA and organized an additional recall of products from mid-March.
In the meantime, to cope with the shortage, most large shopping centers have limited the number of boxes of infant milk sold per customer. Hoping to keep some control over their stock.
Powdered milk has thus become the latest and perhaps one of the most striking illustrations of the fact that no one escapes the repercussions of the current crises. Not even infants, who are far from aware that their bottles depend in part on the confinements in China, their effects on the supply chain and the tensions in the heart of Europe, which contribute to the rise in prices.