Australia in talks with U.S. to supply infant formula

FILE PHOTO: Shelves for baby and toddler formula are partially empty, as the quantity a shopper can buy is limited amid continuing U.S. shortages, at a grocery store in Medford, Massachusetts, U.S., May 17, 2022. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

(Reuters) -Australia is in talks with the United States to supply baby food, an Australian government spokesperson said on Wednesday, after the apex U.S. health regulator relaxed its import policy to address a nationwide shortage.

Makers of baby food globally are exploring opportunities of supplying to the U.S. after the easing of import norms. Two million cans of formula from the UK are headed to American shores, while Bubs Australia struck a deal with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week to supply 1.25 million cans.

Several dairy firms in Australia and New Zealand, including the world’s biggest dairy exporter Fonterra, were also in similar discussions with the FDA, Reuters reported on Monday.

“The Australian government will continue to work with the Biden Administration to confirm regulatory arrangements and facilitate exports of infant formula,” a spokesperson for Australia’s Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, said in an emailed statement.

“Australian Government agencies have been actively engaging with the Australian infant formula industry to help secure supply of infant formula to the U.S.”

The agency didn’t provide additional details on the extent of talks with the U.S. government.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for New Zealand’s Ministry of Primary Industry said the country was “in a good position” to supply to the U.S. market and help them tackle the shortage.

He added that the decision to ship baby food to the U.S. rested exclusively with the manufacturers.

Reporting by Harish Sridharan and Rushil Dutta in Bengaluru; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Rashmi Aich