Hygiene Hype

By Christine Esposito, Nonwovens Staff | December 5, 2007

suppliers feel the squeeze as costs and expectations soar

The hygiene components that make diapers, incontinence and feminine hygiene products perform are taken for granted by consumers. That is, unless the technology fails and disaster unexpectedly strikes junior as he heads into nursery school, the caregiver as she moves an elderly patient to his wheelchair, or an already-too-self-conscious teenager as she changes into her gym clothes.

Makers of diapers, feminine hygiene and adult incontinence (AI) do their best to help consumers avoid those problems by rolling out better performing and more aesthetically pleasing products—even as retailers enlist lowest-price selling tactics and raw material and energy prices tick higher.  

That means suppliers are still between a rock and a hard place. As has been the case over the past several years, suppliers feel mounting pressure to deliver innovative yet cost-sensitive solutions to their hygiene customers as their own manufacturing costs are going through the roof.

But there is some good news in the hygiene components market. Although the baby diaper market is flat in developed nations, emerging markets (Eastern Europe, China and Latin America) show promise, and aging baby boomers are likely to fuel demand for AI products for the next several years. Additionally, marketers seeking new revenue streams continue to add products, such as the recent introduction of GoodNites Sleep Boxers and Sleep Shorts, the first absorbent underpants that look and feel like boxer-style underwear.