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‘We are helping feed the babies of America.’ How Cargill’s working to ease the infant formula shortage.

August 08, 2022

We are helping feed the babies of America How Cargills work Cargill employee Ashley Meister and her son, Cole

When Ashley Meister returned to work from parental leave in March, she took comfort knowing her infant son, Cole, would continue growing through regular formula feedings.

But soon afterward, Ashley — along with families across the U.S. — felt the full impact of a developing infant formula shortage.

“To think about not being able to feed your baby is very stressful,” says the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, mother. “To think about all these other parents who are struggling to feed their babies, as well, it's heartbreaking.”

Cargill, where Ashley works, is striving to help ease the scarcity. Across 10 U.S. locations, we’re producing edible oils and sweeteners used by four major U.S. manufacturers to produce formula — and prioritizing product shipments to keep formula flowing.

A call you don’t want to miss

In early June, as the dearth of formula deepened across the U.S., the White House came calling for advice. President Joe Biden’s administration wanted to see how Cargill could help address the challenge.

“It’s a testament to the essential role Cargill has long played in the infant formula supply chain,” says Mike Wagner, managing director for Cargill’s starches, sweeteners and texturizers business in North America.

“We’re working every day to deliver the ingredients our customers need to make more baby formula,” Mike adds. “Everyone — whether that’s farmers, carriers, ingredient manufacturers and formula manufacturers — is working together to get formula to babies and their families as quickly as possible.”


A big responsibility for little citizens

With our facilities running at capacity, we had already been working to ensure our customers’ ingredient needs were met, Mike says. And we’ve continued despite a tight transportation market — thanks in part to the Department of Transportation giving our truckers more time to deliver these critical ingredients and strong relationships with the largest formula customers in the U.S., like Nestle.

“Every ingredient that goes into products as important as infant formula is crucial, so we’re proud of our role in making sure our customers have the high-quality corn syrup and oils they need,” Mike says of the nutrition-providing ingredients Cargill makes. “We take this responsibility seriously and it’s why — for months now — we’ve been doing everything we can to ease the shortage and help the whole supply chain get fully back on track.”

So has Ashley. Along with being a mom, she’s a Food Safety, Quality and Regulatory refinery specialist at Cargill’s Cedar Rapids facility, where we produce corn syrup that goes into infant formula. As a working mother, getting things back on track is as urgent as ever.


“You start to take more pride in your work realizing the impact you are going to make, especially when it's hitting home for you,” Ashley says. “To be able to know we are helping feed the babies of America and get product to the baby formula makers has been a very good feeling.”



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