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Richmond pharmacies limit baby formula purchases

Dad ordered formula from Germany, but it took a month to arrive.

Shelves usually lined with baby formula are becoming increasingly bare at Richmond pharmacies due to the closing of a large manufacturing plant in the U.S.

At the Shoppers Drug Mart at Richmond Center, almost all baby formula items are gone. The situation at London Drugs on Westminster Highway is slightly better, but half of the shelves for baby formula are empty.

Blue signs hanging on the shelves state: “Due to limited supply, baby formula is limited to 1 per customer.”

“Due to the high demand, the current limit is one unit for in-store and online purchases,” said Amy Bown, speaking on behalf of London Drugs. “We hope to increase limits to two units for in-store and online purchases by mid-June.”

On Shoppers’ online store, customers can buy two baby formula items at a time. However, many stores are limiting purchases to dissuade worried parent from panic buying and hording, which would put more pressure on the supply chain.

“To be honest, I am getting used to the shortage now,” said Benjamin Liu, who used to go to Superstore and Walmart for cheaper baby formula. “Almost every time there are discounts, half of the formula items are gone when I get there.”

When Liu couldn’t get preferred baby formula for his one-year-old daughter, he would go online and purchase from overseas.

“But last time I ordered from Germany, it took a month to get it,” said Liu.

Baby formula supply challenges are a wider industry issue. Several B.C. retailers have started putting limits simultaneously.

These limits come as a large baby formula manufacturing plant in the U.S. was closed, causing a global shortage of infant formula.

The limits on baby formula will likely be in place until this fall as supply disruptions should be resolved by then, according to London Drugs.

Liu feels lucky that he still has one and a half bottles of baby formula at home - it will take his baby girl half a month to finish it.

“For accessing specialty formulas, we encourage customers to speak to your doctor or pharmacist to discuss alternative solutions,” Amy said responded in an email.