San Pedro Sula — Global supply chains have been under stress since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, disrupting consumer access to a variety of products, and stores are taking longer to stock their shelves as suppliers have slowed their operations, and consumers feel the effect when they go to supermarkets or pharmacies and the product they demand is in short supply.
The most recent supply chain problem that has complicated daily life in many countries is the shortage of tampons, a situation that is affecting Honduras.
“Since last year we have been hearing about the shortage of containers, which, more than a shortage, is really a congestion,” according to Carlota Segovia, president of the Association of Women Specialists in Foreign Trade (Amecomex Honduras).
There are containers, “but there is an imbalance, because now the world is so connected and globalized, that everything we consume, in one way or another, has an associated factory in China, either because it produces the raw materials or the final product”, she says.
At present, Chinese ports are still clogged. The impact of China’s covid-19 restrictions is complicating international trade, especially by sea. As the ports are at a standstill, containers are not arriving on time, which also causes delays in the delivery of orders.
“This ultimately ends up affecting the consumer and in this case, the consumer of female hygiene products, such as tampons,” added Segovia.
Added to the imbalance is the effect of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has put even more pressure on the supply chain by impacting the international price of oil.
Meanwhile, the Honduras Supermarkets Association (Asuperh), through its executive director, Vera H. Azize, reported that its affiliate supermarket chains have notified her that “the lack of tampons in the country is due to the shortage of raw materials from suppliers”.
In the case of Kotex Sport tampons, which are produced in the Czech Republic, “there has been a momentary shortage, due to the current crisis of containers that the industry is experiencing globally. The company expects to normalize the supply in the coming weeks,” Javier Corado, general manager of Kimberly-Clark Honduras, told Bloomberg Línea.
He added that the company is working hard with its main business partners in the country to guarantee the supply of its essential products in the different points of sale, and that the company, through its Kotex brand, does stock other menstrual hygiene products.
Due to inflation, average prices for a pack of menstrual pads in the US increased by 8.3% and for tampons by 9.8%, according to Bloomberg, citing an analysis by NielsenIQ to May 28.
In that country, feminine hygiene products are not exempt from taxes in most states and are also not covered by federal aid programs.
In Honduras meanwhile, the Central Bank does not measure the monthly variation of this type of products in its consumer price index, and the closest indicator is that of personal care, which contributed 0.31% to the inter-annual price variation of 9.09% that the Central American country registered in May.
Honduras’ imports of sanitary pads and tampons, baby diapers and similar items in 2021 amounted to $57.9 million, according to the central bank.