Formula milk shortage: what’s actually true and what you can do

Less-than-full supermarket shelves have fuelled rumours there could be a formula milk shortage during the coronavirus outbreak. We bring you the true picture from the biggest makers and advice on how to get the best info...

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In a nutshell: At the time of writing this article, formula companies advise they do still have good supplies of formula milk, which they are sending out regularly, though it does seem that they are disappearing from retailers’ shelves quickly.

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It’s probably worth shopping around and trying smaller shops if you can’t find it in your usual supermarket. Do beware of anything you read which says you can get free formula milk during this time, though: it’s almost certainly a scam.

What are the big companies saying about the supply of formula milk?

Formula milk companies including Cow & Gate and Aptamil have addressed the concerns of parents on the matter of formula milk shortages during the coronavirus outbreak directly on their websites, and have dedicated sections addressing the situation during these unusual times.

While Cow & Gate acknowledges that some retailers (especially larger ones) are experiencing shortages, they say that they’re still producing and sending out regular (usually daily) supplies of formula milk but that, yes, you might need to visit smaller shops or pharmacies to find stock.

Formula milk manufacturers: helplines and where to get up-to-date information during the coronavirus outbreak:

Aptamil: Call: 0800 996 1000 (24/7)

Or you can find dedicated COVID-19 information on their website

Cow & Gate: Call: 0800 977 8880

Or you can find dedicated COVID-19 information on their website

Hipp Organic UK: Call: 0845 050 1351 

Plus- see their open letter to parents regarding the supply of their milk on Facebook

Holle: Call (Switzerland): 41 (0) 51555 07 00

Kendamil: Call: 01539 898 555

SMA: Call: 0800 0818 181 (UK)

1800 931 832 (Ireland) Hours: 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday

Cow & Gate states: “At the moment we have good supplies of our formula products and we are sending out regular, daily supplies to all retailers.

“So you should be able to find your formula products when shelves are replenished, although you may need to try more than one store or use online retailers’ local stock checking facility. We also suggest trying local pharmacies and independent stores as they have lower footfall.”

Aptamil says something very similar adding: “Behind the scenes, we are working hard with retailers to ensure that supplies get to store as fast as we can, and where possible, we are increasing production of our milks so that we can maintain good supplies.”

Can I get formula milk for free during the coronavirus outbreak?

No. Despite stories you might read on social media that claim otherwise, you can’t get formula milk for free either from your GP or by ringing the formula-milk company helplines. Yahoo News says that NHS 111 has confirmed that any claims people can get formula milk for free are a hoax.

And Cow & Gate states on its website: “Due to legal restrictions, we must not send out free supplies in the UK.”

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