79% of Shoppers Highly Concerned About Future Availability

CHICAGO, May 31, 2022 (GlobeNewswire) – Numerator, a data and tech company serving the market research space, has released findings from a May 2022 survey of infant formula buyers to identify their concerns and shopping impacts related to the national formula shortage. Overall, monthly sales of baby food are up 58% vs. YA as consumers supplement formula usage and accelerate the transition to solid foods. Despite safety concerns and fears of rising prices, formula shoppers indicate they are still twice as comfortable purchasing formula directly from an online brand than purchasing formula made in Europe.

Key Findings Include:

  • Infant formula buyers are highly concerned about availability. Nearly nine in 10 formula shoppers (84%) have experienced difficulties finding infant formula in the past month, and 79% are extremely or very concerned about future availability.
  • Formula shoppers are worried about price increases and manufacturer safety. Increasing costs are a significant worry for 70% of buyers, and 65% have safety concerns regarding infant formula manufacturers, given the recalls earlier this year.
  • U.S. consumers are skeptical of imported formulas. Only 17% say they are comfortable purchasing formula made in Europe, and 6% say they are comfortable with formula made in Mexico.
  • WIC shoppers are more impacted by the shortages. More than a quarter of formula buyers (26%) typically purchase their formula using WIC, with 64% of WIC buyers using formula as the exclusive source of food (vs. 59% of non-WIC buyers).
  • Monthly sales of baby food are currently at their highest level in recent years. According to Numerator purchase data, sales were up 28% in March and April vs. the two months prior, and up 58% vs. YA as households supplement their formula usage.
  • Since the February 2022 recall, Enfamil has overtaken Similac for the highest share. Prior to the recall, Similac held the highest share (47%) but now only holds 28%. Enfamil, previously #2 in the market, has risen from 35% share to 47%, according to Numerator TruView data.

Shopping Impact Findings:

  • To find formula, buyers are shopping around and seeking help. Consumers are visiting multiple locations of their preferred store (59%), visiting different stores (58%), and asking friends, family, and coworkers for help (54%) to find formula.
  • Healthcare providers are filling a gap. 16% of buyers say they have called or visited their healthcare provider to obtain formula.
  • Nearly half of formula buyers are going online. 45% have looked online to find their preferred formula, and 24% have visited online forums to purchase from or trade with other parents.
  • Despite increased gas prices, buyers are driving long distances to find formula. 33% are driving further than before to obtain their preferred formula brand, and 35% are paying much higher prices than normal.
  • Consumers are willing to switch brands. Nearly half (45%) of formula buyers say they will seek out another brand with similar ingredients and benefits, regardless of the cost, if they are unable to locate their preferred formula brand.
    • Cost is still a concern. About a quarter of buyers (22%) say they will only switch brands if the price point is similar.
  • Supplementing or switching nutrition is also a possibility. 14% of formula shoppers say they will supplement with other forms of nutrition, and 10% will begin transitioning their child out of formula completely due to the shortages.

Numerator’s infant formula survey was fielded 5/20/22 – 5/23/22 to 576 recent infant formula buyers. Data on monthly baby food sales is sourced from Numerator Insights. Infant formula market share is sourced from Numerator TruView and covers the period of January 2021 – February 2022 and March 2022.

About Numerator:

Numerator is a data and tech company bringing speed and scale to market research. Numerator blends first-party data from over 1 million US households with advanced technology to provide 360-degree consumer understanding for the market research industry that has been slow to change. Headquartered in Chicago, IL, Numerator has 2,000 employees worldwide. The majority of Fortune 100 companies are Numerator clients.


Grow more with modern insights.

Get your free demo today!

Our industry-leading panel is bigger and better than ever — going beyond omnichannel to give brands and retailers the insights they need to grow in ever-changing markets.