Tampon shortage: Why is it happening and when will it end?

Tampons are the most recent items falling victim to shortages in 2022
Posted at 12:28 PM, Jun 17, 2022

COLORADO SPRINGS — There is no shortage of shortages.

Tampons and menstrual pads are the most recent items falling victim to shortages in 2022.

"Cotton is one of the keys to the whole shortage because, obviously, it's a key component to tampons, or pads, or whatever it is," says Zac Rogers, an Assistant Professor of Supply Chain Management at Colorado State University.

According to Rogers, a myriad of factors are contributing to the shortage.

He says economists predicted a higher level of cotton production in 2022 than in 2021.

However, that prediction was proven wrong due in part to the war in Ukraine, drought conditions in high-agriculture states including Texas, and an increased level of cotton being exported to China.

Ukraine is a major exporter of fertilizer but operations stopped when the war with Russia started, meaning farmers were unable to get fertilizer in order to grow cotton. Additionally, Rogers says many farmers chose to produce wheat instead of cotton when the war began because it would be more profitable.

"We will see more cotton coming back online now that there is a financial incentive driving growers towards cotton and away from other commodities... So we'll see it happen, but you know the cotton needs to grow first."

Meanwhile, nonprofits that provide people in need with free feminine hygiene products are hoping they will be able to maintain stock.

"There's a lot of families that are living in a gap. They have to make some hard decisions, some gut-wrenching decisions - Do I buy the tampons? Or do I buy the food for my family?" says Renee Beebe, the Executive Director of Crossfire Ministries in Colorado Springs.

Crossfire Ministries provides free food, clothes, feminine hygiene products, and anything else people struggling financially may need.

Beebe says the organization has been able to purchase tampons and menstrual pads in bulk thanks to grants, but they have seen a big increase in demand for services, and prices continue rising due to inflation.

"The money might be there, but if the product isn't there then... There's another concern."

If you are able to donate items to Crossfire Ministries, you can get involved here.