Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Can Maine Parents Bring Baby Formula Back From Canada?

With a shortage of baby formula across America, some Mainers may be wondering about accessibility in their neighbor to the north.

WOODstock, NB — As the US flies off Europe amid a severe shortage in baby formula, parents in Maine still struggle to find formula for their babies.

Some Maine parents in shortage are looking at their northern neighbor and wondering if they can drive to the border, buy it there, and bring baby formula back from Canada.

Dr. Patti Miles Mange is an Associate Professor of Management and HAF Graduate Faculty Fellow at the University of Maine Business School.

He said that as a general rule, the US does not allow the importation of baby formula from other countries.

“The idea is that other countries don’t have as stringent rules as we have,” Miles said.

Miles also said that there is a big tax for those who try to import it.

But some Maine parents want to take matters into their own hands by moving to Canada to buy baby formula in the near future.

To find out if the parents would have any trouble doing so, the News Center Maine took such a trip and brought back the formula.

It was about a four-hour drive from Portland to Walmart in Woodstock, New Brunswick, but upon arrival the shelf was a little over half full.

A spokesperson for Walmart Canada Corp. issued the following statement to the Maine News Center on baby formula availability:

“We know how important baby formula is to our customers. There are several global, industry-wide supply challenges with baby formula that have persisted for many years. Recently due to increased demand, and to ensure To keep the product available in-store and online, we are temporarily limiting infant formula purchase quantities to 2 per customer until May 31.

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“We are continuing to work closely with our suppliers to secure a strong supply of baby formula across multiple brands and formats (concentrate, powder and ready-to-feed). We thank our customers for their patience and understanding. Thank you.”

In Woodstock, News Center Maine purchased a unit of Enfamil and Nestle Good Start, both made for sensitive stomachs, as they are reportedly the hardest to find in America.

The total of both was about $50 USD.

Bringing formula back to the US went smoothly. News Center Maine declared the formula to a US Customs and Border Protection agent, who later searched the trunk of the car and then drove the vehicle back to Maine.

An article published on the US Customs and Border Protection website in 2019 states, “You can bring bakery items and most cheeses into the United States. As a general rule, condiments, vinegar, oils, packaged spices, honey, Maple syrup, coffee, fish, tea and infant formula are acceptable.”

Another U.S. Customs and Border Protection webpage on how duty-free U.S. buyers from Canada can bring baby formula back into the U.S. said, “You can still get $200 worth of items free of duty and tax. As discussed earlier, these items must be for your personal or household use.”

Once back in Maine, formula was donated to the Men Baby Formula Shortage Help Facebook group, which distributes formula to parents who can’t find it in stores. Within 24 hours, the donated infant formula had already gone to parents in need.

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Elizabeth Huitt, a Maine mother in Old Town, started the group to help other struggling parents. He has an infant of his own to feed Huitt.

“There’s only so much that can go around, and so many people need it,” Huitt said. “roughing it.”

Meanwhile, Huitt’s Facebook group continues to grow. As of Friday, it was up to about 1,400 members. Huitt said he has four moderators and two administrators to help him manage everything. The group calls itself the Baby Formula Shortage Team.

Some volunteers are from Old Town, while others are from Gorham and Scarborough.

So far, Huitt said no one in his group had discussed driving to Canada to buy baby formula.

“Right now, we have a transportation team that goes from Fort Kent to the very tip of Elliot,” Huitt said.

The mother told the news center man that she would never advise anyone to cross the border to get baby formula for others.

“If they do it for themselves, it’s their own business,” Huit said. “I’m not familiar with its effects. I don’t know how it’s handled when the border is crossed.”

With that said, if someone brings in formula from Canada, Huit said his group will accept it. Mom said most people want a hypoallergenic and gentle to sensitive stomach formula.

“They are the hardest to find,” Huitt said. “It’s so heartbreaking to see the parents go [to] Shop after shop.”

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