As the U.S. continues to grapple with a shortage of baby formula, the FDA is paying NielsenIQ to get a more complete picture of the situation.
The FDA awarded NielsenIQ, a leading sales data service, $70,000 for four months of retail sales information. The contract was first reported in Politico and subsequently confirmed by the FDA.
The Biden administration is trying to put a lid on what has become a severe political liability, but it has been handicapped by incomplete data. It had been trying to cobble together a picture of the shortage from various sources, including IRI data and self-reporting by formula processors. But the government can’t compel manufacturers to release sales figures, and IRA data only applies nationwide; it doesn’t give a picture of the severity by region.
The formula shortage started when the FDA shut down an Abbott Laboratories plant in January following several illnesses among infants who had consumed formula made there. The situation was complicated when the plant reopened briefly earlier this month, only to shut down a couple of weeks later due to stormwater flooding.