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A Kendal company has stepped in to save the US from a baby milk crisis.In America, 80% of the country's baby milk formula is made by just two companies and one has had to stop production amid a safety scare, leaving parents struggling to feed their babies.
The scare was caused by bacterial contamination concerns, which could make babies ill. A deal has now been rushed through giving a small Kendal company access to one of the biggest markets in the world and it's changed the company's fortunes in just a few days.At Kendal Nutricare, production of its baby milk Kendamil has gone up by a quarter in just four days.It's the first company in the world to be part of the US Fly Formula Operation, importing baby milk formula, with the military stepping in to fix a crisis for parents on the other side of the world.Kendal Nutricare's Luke Douglas said infants often take a long time to transition from one formula to another, and it can cause serious problems such as with gastrointestinal tracts, which can make babies quite uncomfortable on a new formula.
"The principal problem is the formula that they're used to buying isn't available in the shop that they usually buy it from, or they can't get hold of the formula that they're used to buying at all.
"They're having to switch their infants to a new formula from a new manufacturer."
He continued: "Often parents will have to try two, three or four before they find one that will agree with their infant.
"The knock-on of that is everybody's trying new formulas, the one you've just tried has run out so we've heard of many cases of people trying to make their own formula at home."
Barbie Bewerunge, is a mother in the US and part of The Napkin Network, a charity which provides families in need with essential baby items.
She told ITV Border: "There's that fear that 'my child's going to be sick'...They're worried that 'I can't provide as a parent,' which is your number one goal so you kind of feel disappointed in yourself."
She's been setting up drop-in events for parents to swap formula and says expectant mothers have been turning up scared about the shortage in case they can't nurse their baby. Baby milk is expensive to import into America, so 97% of its supply is made there, mostly (80%) from just two companies.
Then one of them shut down production amid safety fears.Around 40% of America's baby milk was made at that one factory, so when that factory shut down it caused a mass shortage.
The paperwork to get Kendamil into America has been rushed through. It's the first company in the world to use the fast-tracked procedure, which is great news for a Cumbrian company that's struggled in the past.
Blending Team Leader Nicola Smith told ITV Border: "It's a big deal for all our little family that all work here. Massive job security for the team."Warehouse Team Leader Deborah Braithwaite adds: "We'll be taking more staff on.
"It's good for the young people coming out of school, somewhere to have a job to go for life because that's what we're aiming for: it's for us still to be here in the next 30/20 years and this will help."
With increased production, local farmers hope more business will come their way, which could be crucial for another industry that's struggled recently.Kendal Dairy Farmer James Robinson said: "The milk that we're producing at the moment is called PWAB so Produced Without Antibiotics.
"These girls [cows] haven't had antibiotics in their adult life time so it means that meets the standards for going to America.
"There are very strict standards there, slightly different from our European standard. So we're kind of ready-placed really to get milk into the factory, to get abroad into America."It's one big contract that's being seen as a breakthrough into one of the world's biggest markets.Now Kendamil is planning a £25million investment and more jobs so it's been life changing for the small Kendal company.
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