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At Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, the commissary shelves were almost fully stocked with baby formula on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, but shoppers were limited to three per customer.

At Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, the commissary shelves were almost fully stocked with baby formula on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, but shoppers were limited to three per customer. (Jonathan Snyder/Stars and Stripes)

Defense Department commissaries are short of baby formula, just as civilian retailers are, but for now have an adequate supply for military families, the Pentagon’s press secretary said Monday.

“We’re not immune to the same supply chain problems that other families across America are experiencing,” John Kirby told reporters at the Pentagon.

A shortage in the United States began last year with supply chain and production issues caused by parents stockpiling formula during the COVID-19 pandemic, The Associated Press reported Friday. In February, one of only a handful of makers recalled its product and shut down its Michigan factory when four babies suffered bacterial infections after consuming formula made there.

The Defense Commissary Agency, or DeCA, is monitoring the market situation that is impacting the supply, Kirby said. The agency, headquartered at Fort Lee, Va., operates a worldwide chain of commissaries that provide groceries and other items to military personnel, retirees and their families.

“Our assessment right now is that both overseas and remote commissaries are currently at an adequate level of supplies for baby formula,” Kirby said.

DeCA is working to ensure all overseas commissaries continue to receive baby formula shipments and address any issues with distributors, Kirby said.

“Current stock levels of available baby formula here in the continental United States is at 50%,” he said. “At our commissaries and overseas it stands at 70%” of normal stock.

At Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, the commissary shelves were almost fully stocked with formula on Tuesday, but shoppers were limited to three per customer.

“I’m not using formula, but I really feel for everyone that is dealing with that,” Navy spouse Allison Kennedy, mother of a 5-month-old baby, told Stars and Stripes on Tuesday. “I know people have had good luck going out into town because the Japanese [do] not have the same shortage.”

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Jonathan Snyder is a reporter at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan. Most of his career was spent as an aerial combat photojournalist with the 3rd Combat Camera Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. He is also a Syracuse Military Photojournalism Program and Eddie Adams Workshop alumnus.
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