Joe Biden announced the arrival of more than 78,000 pounds of baby formula in Indianapolis on Sunday that had been imported from Europe. His official account posted a tweet saying that “Operation Fly Formula” has people working “around the clock” to get formula to everyone who needs it.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that the formula was being transported by a U.S. military plane. She addressed the press aboard Air Force One as she accompanied Biden enroute from South Korea to Japan.
The Sunday shipment is the first of several military flights of infant formula that Biden has approved from Europe to the U.S.
Biden’s Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack took the opportunity presented by the flight to make a press appearance in Indianapolis welcoming the arrival of the emergency formula supplies.
The shipment included 132 pallets of Nestle Alfamino formula brought from Ramstein Air Base in Germany. Another shipment of 114 pallets of Gerber formula is expected this week.
The military operation is taking place as Biden has also invoked the Defense Production Act to increase the production of baby formula domestically. America’s baby formula shortage has been looming as some analysts blame supply chain issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The top U.S. producer of formula, Abbott Laboratories, closed a domestic plant after a FDA probe led to the recall of some products. Although that happened months ago, the Biden administration maintained that it was blindsided by the shortage as consumers discovered severely reduced retail supplies in recent weeks.
Jean-Pierre also said on Sunday that there is “no timeline” for when American parents can expect to see baby formula actually hit shelves for purchase. She said that the president “understands the struggle of moms and dads and parents and caregivers” who want to make sure their children have a “healthy way of eating.”
She added that the president has initiated the military importation and invoked the Defense Production act because “safe formula is our number one priority.” She said that “Operation Fly Formula” reduced the time for European importation of formula from two weeks to “approximately three days.”