In May 2022, as a baby formula shortage left many parents worried about obtaining enough food for their infants, a message went viral on social media that offered a simple solution: Just change your location settings, the message claimed, and buy as much baby formula as you need from Amazon Canada:
One popular version of this claim on Twitter, read: “TO ALL THE MOMS THAT CANT FIND BABY FORMULA….go to amazon…go to the bottom…change from US to Canada. You can get all the formula you need. They are not having a shortage just the US is. Have it shipped right to your front door. 🍼”
There are two problems with this claim. First, while Canadian parents have not seen a widespread baby formula shortage, the country has not been immune to the same global supply chain issues that have contributed to the shortage in the United States. Michelle Wasylyshen, the national spokesperson for the Retail Council of Canada, told CTV News:
“Some retailers that I have spoken to have seen an impact since last year because of those global supply chain challenges. But it’s definitely become considerably worse since the production facility closure and product recall … The majority of that section within their stores, the baby formula is stocked. If there are any outages or shortages on the shelves, they should be temporary in nature for the most part.”
More importantly, the “life hack” in this viral message doesn’t work.
We tried changing our location to Canada and shopping for baby formula. While we were able to see plenty of products that were available to Amazon customers in Canada, whenever we attempted to purchase a product we were greeted with a message stating that the product could not be shipped to our U.S. address:
Amazon elaborated on a page dedicated to shipping restrictions, writing:
Certain restrictions prevent us from shipping certain products to all geographical locations. Restrictions for specific items may require the purchaser to provide additional information in order to ship the item.
We reached out to Amazon for more information and a spokesperson told us that this workaround didn’t work, saying: “US based Amazon customers are not able to purchase baby formula products from Amazon.ca if they are sold and shipped by Amazon or sold by third-party sellers and shipped by Amazon.”
While Amazon won’t ship baby formula from Canada to the United States (even if you change your location settings), shoppers may be able to find third-party sellers on Amazon who are willing to ship products across the border. This, of course, comes with an added cost. When we tried to purchase baby formula from a third-party seller, the quoted shipping price was $35.
“Concerned about Canada’s Baby Formula Supply? What You Need to Know.” CTVNews, 13 May 2022, https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/concerned-about-canada-s-baby-formula-supply-what-you-need-to-know-1.5902470.
The Nationwide Baby Formula Shortage Is Getting Worse. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/baby-formula-shortage-rationing-national-crisis/. Accessed 16 May 2022.