There’s a national tampon shortage in the US due to supply chain issues

There have been persistent supply chain issues and shortages of various products since the pandemic began over two years ago. The latest item that’s hard to find? Tampons. This started making news over the weekend with a weird celebrity tie-in. Amy Schumer did some Tampax ads in 2020 and a Proctor & Gamble spox said that her ads spiked sales. Which is hilarious because Tampax has been around forever and the shortage is obviously not Amy’s fault.

Tampons are hard to find.

Like baby formula in 2022 or toilet paper in 2020, the essential sanitary product is the latest casualty of the pandemic, increased demand and disrupted supply chains.

On social media, women are posting photos of empty drugstore shelves and saying they can’t find tampons for miles and miles. They wonder if they will have to switch to other methods like pads or menstrual cups. Even Amy Schumer is being dragged into the conversation after being mentioned in an article as contributing to an increased demand of Tampax since she appeared in ads — in 2020.

What’s behind all of this?

Tampax maker P&G spokeswoman Cheri McMaster told Time that “retail sales growth has exploded” since 2002. Demand is up 7.7% over the past two years, she said.

The outlet also reported that P&G said in a recent earnings call that it was struggling with supply chain issues, including sourcing and transporting raw materials and and getting the products on trucks to retailers.

Other potential factors include staff shortages at particular manufacturing plants and increased cotton prices, likely due to the war in Ukraine, where much of the world’s fertilizer is produced, affecting crops of all kinds.

[From People]

This ABC 7 article explores the supply chain disruptions a bit more, as well as price gouging. Like the PPE price gouging early in the pandemic, holding tampons/hygiene products essentially hostage to sell them at high rates is pretty terrible. Tampons and related personal hygiene products should be free or more affordable anyway, but that’s another story. Until these news articles, I wasn’t aware that there was a tampon shortage. These products are (luckily) pretty consistently stocked in my area, both in terms of volume and variety. But other things are harder to find so I guess the impacts of the shortages are somewhat regional and it’s a tradeoff. For example, I’ve had a lot of trouble finding my cat’s preferred food and litter, and today I had to go to three stores to find the latter. Which was annoying, but at least I was about to find it somewhere. Most people have reasons why they prefer one brand over another. And it’s bad enough to have to resort to using a tampon brand that’s not your usual/preferred, so not being able to find tampons at all must be incredibly frustrating. Of course there are alternative options to tampons, but everyone has their preferred products and people who want tampons should be able to access them.

“A similar discussion was happening on Reddit, where one poster said she checked eight stores looking for her preferred brand”

— TIME (@TIME) June 10, 2022

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