The World Health Organisation has joined calls to take action over the price escalation of baby formula.
Baby formula companies are ‘exploiting’ vulnerable British families, it said, calling out the ‘profit-driven’ manufacturers for ‘manipulating the price’ of their products.
Prices of even the cheapest baby formula brands have skyrocketed by 45% in the past two years.
And many baby banks in the UK – similar to food banks – can’t cope with the demand as the cost of living crisis worsens.
Formula companies have attributed the skyrocketing prices to ‘increased production costs’.
In response to the shocking situation, Metro.co.uk and Feed UK have launched a Formula for Change campaign, calling on the government to give the green light for supermarkets to sell formula to families using gift vouchers and loyalty points.
Under current guidelines, formula milk products fall into the same category as tobacco and lottery items – meaning families can’t use Boots points, Sainsbury’s Nectar Points or Tesco Clubcards to help cover costs.
FORMULA FOR CHANGE: HOW YOU CAN HELP
Join Metro.co.uk and Feed in calling on the government to urgently review their infant formula legislation and give retailers the green light to accept loyalty points, all food bank vouchers and store gift cards as payment for infant formula.
Our aim is to take our petition to No.10 to show the Prime Minister this is an issue that can no longer be ignored.
The more signatures we get, the louder our voice, so please click here to sign our Formula for Change petition.
Things need to change NOW.
WHO technical officer Laurence Grummer-Strawn told Sky News: ‘It is shocking to be seeing a high income country like the UK facing these kinds of problems where mothers can’t afford to feed their babies.
‘We really need government action to address either on the price end or in ways to help those families directly.
‘Lowering the prices can help these families, but it needs to be in a sustainable way.
‘To be setting up a situation where people are dependent on these baby banks and food banks to be providing this, that’s not a sustainable way for families to get what they need.’
Alison Reynolds, who co-runs the Little Smarties Baby Bank in Cardiff told Metro.co.uk: ‘People end up in circumstances that aren’t their fault, they deserve to have help on hand instead of having to reach out.’
A wave of celebrities have already backed the Formula for Change campaign after nearly 50,000 people signed our online petition.
Celeb Kesley Parker said it ‘breaks my heart to hear that some families are going to extreme measures to feed their babies’.
Labour MP Preet Gill told us: ‘For mothers already enduring a cost-of-living crisis, the rising cost of baby formula is crippling.
‘While not intended to do so, the government’s policy preventing the price reduction or promotion of formula feed is now hurting families.’
Years ago, the Healthy Start programme was introduced to provide a nutritional safety-net for low-income mothers and families – but at £8.50 a week, the vouchers don’t even cover the cost of even the cheapest formula on the market.
The prices can vary in price from £9.39 to £15.95. Currently, an 800g tub of formula milk costs £12.
Last year alone, the least expensive formula brand shot up by 22% in price.
Sign our petition to allow UK families to spend in store points and gift cards on infant formula
Iceland formerly said it would ‘illegally’ accept discounts on baby formula – but haven’t reduced the prices of baby products.
Previously, women who turned to baby banks told Metro.co.uk how they would be forced to water down formula milk to make it last longer.
Other parents have resorted to stealing formula outright.
You can make a difference by signing our petition our spreading the word online with the #formulaforchange hashtag on social media.
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