Major tampon makers pledge to tackle US shortages

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Packages of Tampax brand tampons on a drugstore shelf in New York.Image source, Getty Images

Major tampon manufacturers in the United States have pledged to make more of the sanitary products to address shortages in the country.

One firm told the BBC the pandemic had caused staff shortages at its plants.

Social media users have been posting about their experiences as they struggle to find sanitary products.

One Reddit user said they visited eight stores to find tampons with a cardboard applicator, before deciding to buy them online "at a noticeable mark-up".

It comes as the war in Ukraine is making the raw materials used in sanitary products more costly.

The shortage is also adding to concerns that supply chain disruptions could further push up prices for essential goods around the world.

A spokesperson for Edgewell Personal Care, which makes Playtex and o.b. tampons, said that its stocks have been "impacted due to extensive workforce shortages caused by two separate Omicron surges in the US and Canada in late 2021 and early 2022, respectively".

"We have been operating our manufacturing facilities around the clock to build back inventory and anticipate returning to normal levels in the coming weeks," the spokesperson added.

Meanwhile, Procter & Gamble (P&G), the maker of the Tampax tampon brand, said in a statement that it was "working hard to ramp up production".

"We can assure you this is a temporary situation," said the company, which sells around 4.5bn boxes of tampons globally each year.

P&G's chief financial officer, Andre Schulten, said at a recent earnings call that it has been "costly and highly volatile" to acquire raw materials such as cotton and plastic for tampons.

"It is so important at this point for people to buy only what they need. I am not a supply chain expert but we know that some of the shortages we all experienced early in the pandemic were due to hoarding," Elise Joy, the co-founder and executive director of US charity Girls Helping Girls Period, said.

"Menstrual products are not a luxury item, and if we all take or buy what we need it will go a long way to making sure more people can get basic supplies," she added.

A spokesperson for the US pharmacy chain Walgreens told the BBC that it was "experiencing some temporary brand-specific tampon shortage in certain geographies".

"While we will continue to have products at shelf and online, it may only be in specific brands while we navigate the supply disruption," the spokesperson added.

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