Manufacturer rebates to States for infant formula reduced WIC spending by about 23 percent from 1989 to 2022

This is a line graph showing WIC formula costs before and after rebates from formula manufacturers to States. There is also a graphic of a can of formula.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) serves to safeguard the health of low-income pregnant and postpartum women, infants, and children younger than 5 years who are at nutritional risk. State agencies responsible for implementing WIC use cost-containment strategies to reduce program costs. The greatest savings come from strategies used to contain the costs of providing infant formula through the program. Since 1989, most WIC State agencies have used competitive bidding to award contracts to a single manufacturer to serve as the formula of first choice for infant participants in their State. In return, manufacturers offer WIC State agencies rebates for each unit of formula sold through the program. From 1989 to 2022, savings to WIC from the rebates totaled $71.9 billion (in inflation-adjusted 2022 dollars), or 23 percent. Without the rebates, the Federal Government would have spent about $307.5 billion on the WIC program over that period. With the rebates, the Government spent $235.6 billion. This chart is drawn from the USDA, Economic Research Service report The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC): Background, Trends, and Economic Issues, 2024 Edition, published in February 2024.

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