AG James warns over 30 New York retailers to stop price gouging baby formula

Shelves typically stocked with baby formula sit mostly empty at a store in San Antonio, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. A massive baby formula recall, combined with COVID-related supply chain problems, is getting most of the blame for the shortage that’s causing distress for many parents across the U.S. But the nation’s formula supply has long been vulnerable to this type of crisis, experts say, due to decades-old rules and policies that have allowed a handful of companies to corner nearly the entire U.S. market.
(AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

New York Attorney General Letitia James issued warnings to over 30 brick-and-mortar and online stores across the state to stop price gouging baby formula after customers reported unreasonably high prices amidst the ongoing shortage.

New York’s price gouging statute prohibits merchants from charging excessive prices for essential goods and services in times where the market is facing abnormal disruptions, such as shortages. Attorney General James cease-and-desist letters to these retailers ordering them to immediately stop overcharging for baby formula and warned of the legal consequences of price gouging.

“It’s unconscionable that some retailers are taking advantage of the national baby formula shortage while parents are struggling to find food for their children,” said Attorney General James. “Amid this crisis, families already have enough to worry about and should not have to worry about being price gouged. We are warning all retailers that New York will not tolerate price gouging of baby formula, and I encourage anyone who sees this to continue reporting it to my office.”

Earlier this month, Attorney General James issued a warning to retailers against price gouging baby formula and encouraging New Yorkers to report any instances to her office. Her letters state that wholesalers and distributors are also prohibited from price gouging and encourages retailers to notify her office if they are being overcharged.

Since issuing that warning, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has received several consumer complaints of baby formula price gouging at local retailers across the state, primarily in New York City. One consumer reported that a 19.8 ounce can of Enfamil Nutramigen formula, which typically sells for $44.99, was being sold by an Erie County retailer for $59.99, and it was also reported that a 32-ounce ready-to-feed bottle of Enfamil NeuroPro was being sold by a Bronx retailer for $17.99 when it previously sold for $11.99.

The OAG is encouraging New York parents that are struggling to find formula to speak with their child’s doctor before watering down formula or trying to make their own, and also to only buy as much formula as they need and to not unnecessarily stock up as panic buying can intensify the shortage and encourage price gouging. The OAG also reminds consumers that it is not price gouging for retailers to limit the amount of formula they sell to individual consumers.

When reporting price gouging to OAG, consumers should report the specific price increases, dates and places where they saw increases, and the size and type of formula sold. If available, those who report should also provide copies of their receipts and photos of the advertised prices.

New Yorkers should report potential concerns about price gouging to OAG by filing a complaint online or call 800-771-7755.