The term "diapers" has been trending online in recent days following reports that the U.S. is experiencing a "shortage" of the household necessity for parents of little ones.
But recent articles on the topic seemed to conflate folks' need for diapers with an actual lack of diapers being available on retail shelves.
The New York Times declared last week that "diapers are the latest pandemic shortage" in a piece largely focused on how difficult it has become for parents to afford diapers.
The article did report that "diapers aren't always in stock" on store shelves – which is certainly true in at least some places given ongoing problems with shipping and labor shortages – but the newspaper only cited one mother who said it was difficult to find diapers near her Junction City, Kan., home even before COVID-19 hit the U.S.
Then on Tuesday, Today.com warned that "at least 1 in 3 Americans is facing a diaper shortage," reporting that "supply chain issues and rising material costs put parents in a tight spot during the pandemic." The article reported that according to one charity that provides diapers, requests from parents "have increased 500% during the pandemic, while diaper costs rose 10% during the same time." The article did not give any examples of shortages.
When asked if they were seeing supply chain issues causing diaper shortages, two major manufacturers told FOX Business that they are keeping up with demand.
"Overall, we wouldn't expect consumers to be experiencing out of stocks on our products," a spokesperson for Proctor & Gamble, who makes Pampers. The spokesperson admitted that, "in isolated cases, it is possible from time to time for a certain size or version to be unavailable."
A spokesperson from Kimberly-Clark, which owns Huggies brand, said, "We can confirm there is no shortage of Huggies® products," and also pointed to the difference between diaper shortages and diaper need.
Major retailers aren't seeing a problem with diaper supply, either.
When asked if their members were reporting problems keeping diapers in stock, the National Retail Federation told FOX Business in an email, "We have not heard anything specific to diapers around supply chain issues at this time."
The Wall Street Journal reported in August that diaper prices had increased nearly 12% in the last year, with diaper manufacturers warning they would be raising prices further due to higher costs of their inputs – namely lumber, because wood pulp filler is often used in diapers, and oil, because some of the materials used to make diapers are petroleum-based.
Even if there isn't a shortage of diapers, inflation is taking its toll on the price of the product. That hits lower-income folks hardest and makes it more difficult for Americans to afford the item – which has exacerbated the problem of diaper need.