Attorney General James Delivers More Than 4,500 Cans of Baby Formula to New Yorkers in Western New York

AG James Secured Formula from Walgreens for Price Gouging During 2022 Shortage

BUFFALO – New York Attorney General Letitia James today delivered 4,668 cans of baby formula to New Yorkers in Western New York as a result of her investigation into Walgreens Co. (Walgreens) for illegally raising prices of baby formula during the 2022 shortage. The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) began an investigation into Walgreens’ price gouging of baby formula following reports and consumer complaints about unreasonably high costs associated with this essential product. Attorney General James secured a settlement from Walgreens in the form of over 9,500 cans of baby formula, which will be distributed to New Yorkers in need. In addition, Walgreens will pay a $50,000 penalty to resolve the OAG investigation. The 4,668 cans of baby formula distributed today have a wholesale value of approximately $100,000 and will go to FeedMore WNY and the Buffalo Prenatal Perinatal Network in Erie County.

“During a nationwide baby formula shortage, Western New York parents, like millions throughout the state, were terrified while trying to figure out how they would get their babies critical nutrition,” said Attorney General James. “Retailers took advantage of panicked and desperate parents and raised prices, adding more stress and financial hardship on overburdened families. By taking action against Walgreens, my office has secured $200,000 worth of baby formula – more than 9,500 cans – that will be provided to New York families. I am proud to bring this formula to Western New York and to partner with great community organizations who will ensure this baby formula gets to families and babies in need.”

Buffalo Baby Formula(1)
Buffalo Baby Formula(2)

Pictures from Attorney General James' baby formula donation announcement

Millions of infants throughout the country rely on formula as their primary or supplemental food source, and a 2022 shortage caused by a plant closure and recall created significant hardship for families across New York State. In May 2022, Attorney General James issued warnings to more than 30 retailers across the state to stop overcharging for baby formula after consumers reported unreasonably high prices. An OAG investigation triggered by consumer reports found that Walgreens engaged in price gouging on at least 20 infant formula products. Walgreens raised retail prices by over 10 percent on those products. For some products, Walgreens’ price increase was over 20 percent, and in one case, it was over 70 percent. The OAG’s investigation found that Walgreens made over 2,400 individual formula sales at these inflated prices, selling over 3,400 cans or bottles of formula and bringing in over $150,000 in revenue.

FeedMore WNY and Buffalo Prenatal Perinatal Network, both of Erie County, will receive 4,668 cans of baby formula as part of Attorney General James’ settlement with Walgreens. In 2019, FeedMore WNY was established following the merger of Meals on Wheels for Western New York and the Food Bank of Western New York. FeedMore WNY has helped distribute more than 17 million pounds of food to nearly 300 pantries, soup kitchens, emergency shelters and other hunger-relief agencies throughout the Western New York region. The Buffalo Prenatal Perinatal Network was established in 1987 to support the health and wellbeing of Erie County families and children. Services include connecting families with primary care physicians, offering pediatric immunizations, organizing classes and post-partum education, and providing assistance to struggling families. The 4,668 cans of baby formula will be split between both organizations.

“FeedMore WNY is extremely grateful that, as a result of the settlement negotiated by New York Attorney General Letitia James and her office, thousands of moms and precious babies in Western New York in need of nutritional assistance, will see rapid and meaningful relief,” said Tara A. Ellis, President and CEO, FeedMore WNY. “Across our four-county service area of Erie, Niagara, Cattaraugus, and Chautauqua counties, the need is growing. In 2023 alone, 2,900 infants received nutritional assistance from a FeedMore partner agency. We cannot do this work and provide food to our neighbors in need without strong partnerships across government. We deeply appreciate leaders, like Attorney General James, who look to make a difference and find new ways to solve problems and address the needs of the community.”

“Buffalo Prenatal Perinatal Network (BPPN) is grateful to New York Attorney General Letitia James and her office for sharing the baby formula with our agency,” said Marixsa Sanchez-Feliciano, Community Health Worker Program Manager,Buffalo Prenatal Perinatal Network. “BPPN promotes a mother’s choice to formula-feed and/or breastfeed her child. We will make sure this baby formula is shared with our BPPN families that need it.”

“I thank New York Attorney General Letitia James for securing these much-needed resources for the youngest and most vulnerable members of our community,” said Mayor Byron W. Brown. “Attorney General James has found a creative way to hold Walgreens accountable for their actions and devise a solution for the families affected by the formula shortage. Price gouging should never be tolerated, especially when goods like baby formula are vital to our children’s health and nutrition.”

“When families were already struggling to find the formula they needed, Walgreens capitalized on that panic by raising prices, only exacerbating access to this critical source of nutrition,” said State Senator Tim Kennedy. “I applaud Attorney General James for holding them accountable, and in doing so, prioritizing the needs of incredible resources for local parents like FeedMore WNY and the Buffalo Prenatal Perinatal Network.”

“I would like to thank Attorney General James for taking up this fight on behalf of New York families. Companies like Walgreens, who saw a threat to the food supply for millions of infants as an opportunity to increase their profits, need to be held accountable for their selfish and dangerous actions,” said State Senator Sean Ryan. “This partnership with FeedMore WNY and the Buffalo Prenatal-Perinatal Network will help thousands of families in need across Erie County.”

“I applaud Attorney General James for holding companies like Walgreens accountable for their price gouging practices during COVID. Doing so for infants and struggling families during an extreme time of need is reprehensible,” said Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes. “I'm confident that the 4,668 cans of baby formula being distributed to FeedMore WNY and Buffalo Prenatal Perinatal Network will support and provide needed relief to vulnerable WNY infants and their parents.”

Over and over we’ve seen big corporations take advantage of families when times are toughest, and a product like baby formula is simply not a luxury families can afford to forego,” said Assemblymember Jon D. Rivera. “Responsible caregivers will do anything to keep their baby fed and healthy in their earliest moments of life. Walgreens knew this, and knew parents and caregivers would have no choice but to pay their exorbitant prices for baby formula. This is wrong. I thank Attorney General Letitia James for fighting for families against corporations that attempt to take advantage of our community. Her leadership will guard against other corporations trying the same illegal tactics, and put baby formula into the hands of families who need it urgently.”

“I thank Attorney General James for providing thousands of cans of baby formula to families here in Western New York and across New York state,” said Assemblymember Karen McMahon. “Not only is price gouging illegal, but it is particularly egregious when the victims are young families and babies. We in New York are fortunate to have such a fierce advocate for justice in our corner.”

“As a woman who gave birth during the height of COVID-19, I know firsthand the stress the pandemic placed on families with infants. Retailers who intentionally inflated prices of baby formula during a national shortage deserve legal consequences,” said Erie County Legislature Chair, April N.M. Baskin. “I want to thank Attorney General Letitia James and her office for protecting the families of New York state from predatory retail practices and securing thousands of baby formula cans for residents who are in need as a result of her well fought battle.”

“I commend the efforts of the Office of Attorney General Letitia James in swiftly addressing this issue and securing justice for New York families,” said Buffalo Common Council Member Mitch Nowakowski. “The formula shortage of 2022 brought immense stress and anxiety to countless families, not only in the city of Buffalo but across the state of New York, and it's appalling to witness corporations taking advantage of vulnerable families during times of crisis. Moving forward, it's crucial that we continue to monitor and enforce regulations to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.”

“I commend Attorney General James for her swift and decisive action in holding Walgreens accountable for their actions,” said Buffalo Common Council Member Zeneta B. Everhart. “By directing the donated baby formula to organizations like the Buffalo Prenatal Perinatal Network, we can ensure that it reaches those who need it most, providing crucial support to families facing financial hardship.”

“I commend Attorney General Letitia James for her generous donation of over 4,500 cans of baby formula and the decisive action taken against price gouging,” said Council Member Bryan Bollman. “This commitment sends a resounding message: in the city of Buffalo, price gouging will not be tolerated. I extend heartfelt gratitude to Attorney General James for safeguarding the well-being of our future generations and working to ensure that no child goes hungry.”

Attorney General James has been a leader in the fight to protect New York consumers and guard against price gouging. In May 2023, Attorney General James secured a $100,000 settlement with Quality King Distributors, Inc. due to unconscionable price increases for Lysol products during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2023, Attorney General James announced price gouging rules to protect consumers and small businesses from corporate profiteering. The rules would strengthen enforcement of New York’s price gouging law. In April 2021, Attorney General James delivered 1.2 million eggs to food pantries throughout the state which were secured as part of an agreement with the nation’s largest egg producers for price gouging in the early months of the pandemic. Throughout the pandemic, during major disruptions, and ahead of declared disasters, Attorney General James has issued consumer warnings against price gouging on essential supplies.

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

This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Fishman, under the supervision of Bureau Chief Jane M. Azia and Deputy Bureau Chief Laura J. Levine, all of the Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau. Data Scientist Jasmine McAllister also assisted in this matter, under the supervision of former Directors Jonathan Werberg and Megan Thorsfeldt and Acting Director Gautam Sisodia, all of the Research and Analytics Department. The Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau is a part of the Division for Economic Justice, which is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General Chris D’Angelo and is overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.