Tampon makers say they are scrambling to replenish supplies of their products after shortages were reported on shelves across the country.
On Monday, US Senator Maggie Hassan sent a letter to Procter & Gamble Co., Edgewell Personal Care Co., Johnson & Johnson and Kimberly-Clark Corp. asking what they plan to do to respond to reports of shrinking supply and rising prices by third-party sellers. The New Hampshire Democrat cited multiple news reports of a shortage. This follows a shortage of formula and rising prices for everything from food and clothing to gasoline and menstrual products.
Companies should “take immediate action to increase the supply of tampons and end unnecessary price increases,” Hassan said in the letter. “Access to menstrual products should be treated like any other essential good.”
Inventory levels for women’s products hovered around 92% for the week ended May 29, according to IRI data, around normal levels. Data is not isolated for buffers alone.
P&G, which makes brands such as Tampax and Always, has a nearly 50% market share in menstrual care supplies in the United States. The company is “working hard to increase production to meet increased demand for our products,” a spokesperson said in an emailed statement Friday. Edgewell, the company behind the Playtex and ob brands, cited surges in the omicron variant of COVID-19 as the cause of any inventory declines.
“We have been operating our manufacturing facilities around the clock to replenish inventory and anticipate a return to normal levels in the coming weeks,” an Edgewell spokesperson said in an email.
The reported shortages are the latest blow to consumers for whom the products are essential: the average cost of a box of tampons rose 9.8% in the year to May 28, according to NielsenIQ, and 8.3% for a box of napkins. Such increases can be particularly difficult for poor or low-income consumers, many of whom have previously struggled to afford such products. Federal programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program do not cover menstrual products, and 26 states impose a tax on menstrual products.
An April 2021 survey by Kimberly-Clark found that two out of five people in the United States struggle to afford menstrual products each month, a condition known as period poverty. As a result, 38% of low-income women reported missing days of work, school, or another event because they didn’t have the products they needed.