Dairy companies in Australia and New Zealand are queueing to restock empty shelves in the United States with baby food, after the country recently relaxed its import policy to mitigate one of the biggest infant formula shortages in recent history.
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A2 milk is seen on a supermarket shelf in Singapore April 16, 2018. Picture taken April 16, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas White/File Photo

New Zealand’s dairy giants Fonterra (FCG.NZ) and a2 Milk (ATM.NZ), and privately-run Australian firm Bellamy’s Organic confirmed on Monday they had submitted applications to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for supplying baby food to the country.

This followed fellow Antipodean firm Bubs Australia (BUB.AX) inking a deal with the FDA to ship at least 1.25 million cans of its formula. Shares in a2 Milk (ATM.NZ) closed more than 10% higher, while Bubs Australia shot up 40%.

“I’ve got more good news: 27.5 million bottles of safe infant formula manufactured by Bubs Australia are coming to the United States,” President Joe Biden said in a Tweet on Friday.

“We’re doing everything in our power to get more formula on shelves as soon as possible.”

The U.S. baby food shortage was triggered when Abbott Laboratories (ABT.N), the biggest U.S. supplier of powder infant formula including Similac, in February recalled dozens of products after reports of serious bacterial infections in four infants.

Abbott was on track to reopen its key baby formula plant in Michigan within one or two weeks, although FDA Commissioner Robert Califf told lawmakers a week later it would take until July before store shelves across the country were filled.

“In light of the current situation and revised FDA guidance, we have submitted an application to the FDA for approval to supply finished infant formula to parents in the U.S.,” Fonterra, the world’s biggest dairy producer, said in an emailed statement.

Emergency supplies from Europe arrived earlier last week after the Biden administration decided to urgently meet nationwide shortages by relaxing import rules.

UK stocks slipped on Monday as investors refrained from making risky bets ahead of key central bank decisions this week, while gains in Unilever limited losses on the FTSE 100 after the consumer goods giant announced a new chief executive officer.

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