Due to increased cleanliness practices and consumer hoarding, makers of disinfectant wipes like Clorox and Lysol are reporting unprecedented demand that has led to serious supply shortages of many cleaning products. this situation could last well into 2021, according to Clorox CEO Benno Dorer, who told Reuters last month that the company has been unable to keep up with demand for many of its disinfectant products. Wipes, he said, have been particularly challenged because of their complex supply chain.
Readers of this magazine are well aware of the complexity of the wipes supply chain. From nonwoven to converted substrate to the juice to packaging, there are many pieces in this puzzle. That being said, companies throughout the supply chain are working overtime to get these wipes back on store shelves.
Last month, Rockline Industries, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of wet wipes, announced a $20 million investment that would double capacity in Sheboygan, WI. Meanwhile, on the nonwovens front, there has certainly been ambitious investment in spunlaced materials—one of the key types of substrate material used in wipes—in recent months with companies in the U.S., Europe and Asia announcing in new lines. Of course, it does take time for these investments to come onstream, meaning that the supply chain will continue to be challenged, which is something nonwovens manufacturers aren’t necessarily used to. In fact, one industry executive recently commented that it is the first time he’s seen a sellers’ market in spunlace in his two decades in the business.
That will change of course. With nearly every major supplier of wipes material in expansion mode, it won’t be long before the supply chain balances out. However, market experts are expecting this surge in demand to continue as consumers continue to place increased emphasis on hygiene and hospitals and healthcare facilities increase their use of disposable wipes.
Let’s hope that means that good times will continue for wipes and their suppliers.