Commissaries work with distributors to address baby formula availability and implement shopping limits to ensure equal access
FORT LEE, Va. – The Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) is implementing shopping limits on select specialty baby formula items as the agency works with its distributors to increase supply levels.
Since May 13, in conjunction with established WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program purchasing limits at state level, commissaries have placed product limitations on all classified specialty baby formula, similar to the limits customers are seeing in commercial retailers and military exchanges. Purchase limits can vary by location based on local state WIC purchasing limits. Overseas stores are also tied to purchasing limits through the WIC-Overseas program.
“We’re implementing purchase limits because of increased demand and to ensure that everyone has equal access to essential items, and to prevent ‘panic buying’ where product is available,” said DeCA Director and CEO Bill Moore, “The availability of baby formula for all our stores is fluid right now and evolving daily. We are working with our distributors to increase our supply levels of these critical products.”
The commissaries’ current stock levels of available baby formula are as follows: 50 percent for CONUS and 70 percent for OCONUS commissaries (not counting the recalled products we had to pull from our shelves). “If the availability of baby formula becomes an issue for overseas commissaries the agency will airlift product, if necessary, and assuming the products are available,” Moore said.
For commissaries in Europe there are also alternative options for supply through locally produced products, called “OSA” (offshore acquired items). OSA items are sometimes purchased by overseas commissaries to supplement U.S. stock assortments when needed.
For commissaries in the Pacific, the OSA option isn’t available because there are currently no approved local sources for baby formula, making these stores dependent on DeCA’s distributors.
“Across our commissaries, we are in the same position as commercial retailers,” Moore said. “Our distributors are receiving limited allocations of the quantities (essentially, less than they would like to order), which limits supply to our stores.
“Bottom line, we want our customers to know we are doing everything we can to get the products they need onto their store shelves – especially to our overseas and remote commissaries.”
About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Commissaries provide a military benefit, saving authorized patrons thousands of dollars annually on their purchases compared to similar products at commercial retailers. The discounted prices include a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.