Baby Formula Price Hikes Hit Craigslist: 'I'm Willing to Negotiate'

Baby formula prices are hiking on Craigslist amid the shortage in the U.S. as the Better Business Bureau warns of potential scams.

The baby formula shortage began late last year due to supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19 but only worsened in recent weeks after Abbott Nutrition recalled several major brands and shut down its factory in Sturgis, Michigan.

The shortage has forced stores and retailers to limit the number of products customers purchase, and many people are trying to sell formulas in classified advertisements online for more than the stores are selling them for.

On Craigslist, several ads show cans of baby formula being sold at higher prices. One seller located in Fairfax, Virginia, listed a 12.5-ounce can of Enfamil Infant Formula for $60. At Walgreens in the same location, a 20-ounce can of the same product is sold for $36.99—though, it is currently listed as out of stock.

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Prices for baby formula on Craigslist are spiking as the shortage in the U.S. continues. In this photo, a shopper is reflected in a glass case while looking at baby formula at a grocery store in Washington, DC, on May 11, 2022. STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images

In Arizona, a Craigslist seller listed four unopened cans of Similac baby formula at $85, and at a Safeway grocer in the area, four cans of Similac come to roughly $75.96.

Some prices are much higher, however. One seller whose location shows Woodbridge, a census-designated place in Virginia, listed a photo of at least nine different cans of both Enfamil and Similac, listing the bundle for $250. The Craigslist ad posted, "Since times are tough. I am willing to negotiate with the price."

Some advertisements are suspected of being scams as well. On Craiglist, two separate listings, one in Houston, Texas, and one in Charleston, South Carolina, had the same photo and selling details, and advertised, "I can send it to any address in the State!"

But the Better Business Bureau (BBB) warned of potential scams from sellers online, stating, "Online shopping scams are the riskiest. With the current supply issues on many items, including formula, scammers are watching."

The BBB detailed that the scams take place online. "An ad, post, or social media group posts they have baby formula available. The buyer contacts the seller via chat or direct message, showing photos of the cans available. The buyer makes a payment through a peer-to-peer platform, such as PayPal or Venmo, but the formula never arrives," the website stated.

Some signs of potential scams include positive reviews on the website that are copied and pasted, grammatical or spelling errors in the listings, or sellers who are communicative until the payment is made and then become hard to reach. The BBB also warns that when there is no indication of a brick-and-mortar address, or if the address shows a parking lot or unrelated business on a map, those could be indications of a scam as well.

"BBB strongly recommends parents searching for formula online, in chat groups, or on other sources they wouldn't normally utilize, to research it first before providing any personal information," Sandra Guile, a spokesperson for BBB, told Newsweek.

The shortage has put many people in the U.S. in a desperate position. A video of two people arguing in a grocery store over how much product they are buying went viral, and one of the two customers in the video could be heard saying, "You come and you buy all the formula at once. There are kids who need formula today who won't be able to get it because you just bought it to stock up. That's not your problem, right?"

The White House said on Wednesday that President Joe Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to address the ongoing national shortage of baby formula.

Newsweek reached out to the Better Business Bureau for additional comment.