Instacart: Baby formula searches surging as store shelves remain empty
The company said searches for formula surged 245% week-over-week as of May 16.
At the same time, Instacart said its personal shoppers, who pick, pack and deliver orders, continue to encounter widespread shortages and that the rate at which they are able to find formula on store shelves has plummeted 52% since the beginning of May.
Instacart said it has seen an 80% jump in refunds during that period as a result. In most instances, its personal shoppers have not been able to fulfill requests for specific brands or acceptable replacements for them.
Although Instacart doesn’t hold any products in inventory itself, the company said that as of next week it will implement a purchase limit on formula to help more families get access to it.
Many of its retail partners already have similar or even stricter limits in place in stores, the company said.
In a single Instacart transaction, a customer would be able to purchase four containers of a specific formula and, if they need to, they can also purchase an additional four containers of a different formula product.
Instacart said its purchase limit is on top of any individual retailer’s imposed limits. If a retailer limit is stricter than Instacart’s, it will honor the retailer’s limit.
According to digital intelligence platform Similarweb, retailers started to see surges in demand for baby formula in the fall of 2021.
Abbott said Tuesday that it plans to restart work at its Sturgis, Mich., plant on June 4, with the first batches of new formula expected to be available to consumers on or around June 20. When the plant is up and running, the company will be able to increase capacity by 40%, according to Chris Calamari, who leads Abbott’s nutrition division.
–CNN’s Jen Christensen contributed to this report.
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