The massive tampon shortage in the US: A shortage that’s hard to talk about

A view of feminine hygiene products at Duane Reade in New York on June 10, 2022.

Supply chain problems hurt nearly every consumer item in the world, but for menstruating women, there’s another one: the massive shortage of tampons.

Alana Samuels says in time To map out how this supply chain problem is time consuming but underreported. Her article highlighted the problem that women have been complaining about for months on social networks and in forums.

“Honestly, it isIt is almost impossible to find tampons”Says Michelle Wolf, a radio presenter in Bozeman, Montana, who wrote an article for her radio station’s website in March about the impossibility of finding tampons in Montana. “I would say it’s been this way for six months now.”

“Usually, a shortage like this wouldn’t be surprising. We’ve all heard complaints about supply chain problems. Gasoline is expensive. Ports are clogged… But then there was that massive shortage of baby formula that left babies in hospital and mothers angered. I expected many of women that if men were to breastfeed, there would be no shortage of formula,” Samuels pondered.

It’s a shortage of tampons and formula, and in the UK, there’s a shortage of HRT, a medicine used to treat menopausal symptoms. Are bad decisions being made in male-led businesses that affect the supply of products to women?he adds.

The author consulted with the manufacturer Procter & Gamble, which makes Tampax, the most popular brand of tampons in the United States. The response blamed market laws: In July 2020, they launched a campaign with popular comedian Amy Schumer and “retail growth skyrocketed,” said company spokeswoman Sherry McMaster. Demand is up 7.7% in the past two years, and the company operates a Tampax plant in Auburn, Maine, 24 hours a day to meet demand.

Major retailers and manufacturers acknowledged the shortage this week, confirming complaints that have been circulating for months.  The issue grabbed national attention this week after an article in Time described the shortage
Major retailers and manufacturers acknowledged the shortage this week, confirming complaints that have been circulating for months. The issue captured national attention this week after a Times article described the shortage as “nobody talking about” the shortage. (Photo by John Nasion/NoorPhoto)

“But I find it a bit difficult to blame Amy Schumer’s lack of tampons. Who actually sees the ads? And even if the Tampax ads were successful, that explanation doesn’t justify why other brands are out of stock, including Playtex and ob.” time. The author remembers that the other thing that changed in 2020 was that there was a global pandemic and people hoarded because they were afraid they would run out. This surge in demand came at a time when the tampon supply chain, like the supply chain for almost everything else, has been disrupted by factory closures and port delays.

P&G said in its latest earnings call that it continued to have trouble sourcing raw materials for feminine care products, moving them to places they need them and trucking products to retailers. The TOP The Organic Project makes tampons in Europe, and co-founder and CEO Thyme Sullivan says the cost of getting tampons to the United States has increased 300% over last year. The company began transporting biodegradable wrappers for feminine hygiene products from Italy, instead of shipping, because shipping became very difficult and expensive.

Edgewell Personal Care has also faced a severe shortage of staff at its Dover facility, both staff and vendors. Tampons are second-class medical devices, which means that due to quality control systems, companies cannot put anyone on the assembly line, so production is late to order.

And the raw materials used to make tampons — cotton, rayon, and sometimes pulp and plastic — were in high demand during the pandemic, as they were used in medical products such as personal protective equipment. As demand rises, supply shrinks.

says Sheng Lu, a professor in the Department of Fashion and Apparel Studies at the University of Delaware. In April, the price of raw cotton was 71% higher than the previous year.

Increasing demand, lack of personnel, shortage of raw materials…. However, what makes the tampon shortage persistent and problematic is that, unlike most other elements that the supply chain has made access difficult, Tampons aren’t something a woman can stop buying until supplies come back, to remember. “Women get their period every month, and if they’ve used tampons their entire adult life, they need tampons.”

Feminine hygiene - beauty treatment
Feminine hygiene – beauty treatment

As if that weren’t enough, in this scarcity scenario, price increase. generally, The price of women’s care products in the United States increased by 10.8% from last yearAccording to data from the Nielsen IQ Scanner, which tracks prices for point-of-sale systems. Feminine care was one of only two categories in Nielsen’s health and beauty data with prices rising 10% or more from a year earlier in the past six months (the other category was deodorants).

Talking about tampons and menstruation has made it difficult for many people to get their period productsOne in four women now suffers from poor periods, which means they don’t have access to menstrual products, compared to one in five before the pandemic. This has prompted some cities and states to mandate that schools offer free period products, which could also increase demand for tampons.

Thyme Sullivan, CEO of the TOP Organic Project that makes organic products for this period, said in an interview with time who – which The gender of the people who run the country—and most American companies—could help explain the tampon shortage. After all, shortages of toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and even masks and gloves didn’t last long early in the pandemic.

As he explains, this may be due to Decision makers in the supply chain and procurement needed toilet paper and cleaning supplies, or at least could contact the families who needed it. Many people who make these decisions about women’s grooming products don’t use them themselves. “The CEO of Procter & Gamble is a man, and so are the CEOs of Edgewell and Unilever. (The CEO of Abbott Nutrition is a man, like the UK Minister of Health, whose department is responsible for delivering HRT to women using the NHS”…

“There is not a lot of talk about the lack of tampons and there is no rush to solve it because the problem does not directly affect decision makers”Sullivan argues.

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