More than 35,000kg of infant formula was flown by the US Air Force from Europe yesterday to help with a massive American shortage of baby milk.
The formula, enough for half a million baby bottles, was transported by US military plane from Germany to Indianapolis.
It is the first of several flights carrying infant formula from Europe expected this week to relieve the deepening shortage in the US in a series of measures authorised by President Joe Biden to address the crisis.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was in Indianapolis to greet the arrival of the first shipment in the US.
The Biden administration – which has struggled to address a nationwide shortage of formula, particularly hypoallergenic varieties – has dubbed the effort “Operation Fly Formula”.
The crisis follows the closure of America’s largest domestic manufacturing plant in Michigan in February due to safety issues.
The White House has said 132 pallets of Nestlé Health Science Alfamino Infant and Alfamino Junior formula left Ramstein Air Base in Germany for the US. Another 114 pallets of Gerber Good Start Extensive HA formula are expected to arrive in the coming days. Altogether, about 1.5 million 250ml bottles of the three formulas, which are hypoallergenic for children with cow’s milk protein allergy, are expected to arrive this week.
Indianapolis was chosen because it is a Nestlé distribution hub.
The formula will be offloaded into trucks and taken to a distribution centre about 1km away where the company will do a standard quality-control check before distributing the supplies to hospitals, pharmacies and doctor’s offices.
Air Force planes are transporting the initial batch of formula because no commercial flights were available this weekend.
The flight was the first of several to provide “some incremental relief in the coming days” as the government works on a more lasting response to the shortage, said Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council.
Mr Deese said yesterday’s flight had brought 15pc of the specialty medical-grade formula needed in the US.