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Tampon shortage adds to long list of consumer woes amid record inflation

It's the latest product in short supply as prices for consumer goods keep rising.
Tampons are restocked at a market in Sacramento, Calif., in 2016.
Tampons are restocked at a market in Sacramento, Calif., in 2016.Rich Pedroncelli / AP file

If you're having trouble finding a tampon these days, you're probably not alone.

Reports of shortages in feminine hygiene products have circulated online recently. As some have noted, tampons in particular appear to be harder to find than most products that were in short supply during the early months of the pandemic.

A Montana radio host remarked on the low inventory of tampons in a blog post in March, according to Time, questioning why shelves in the feminine products aisle have been nearly empty "for a few months now."

It's the latest in a series of unprecedented shortages, including baby formula, that have rattled shoppers across the U.S.

In a statement to NBC News, consumer goods manufacturer Procter & Gamble, the maker of both Tampax tampons and Always pads, acknowledged that some consumers may currently be unable "to find what they need." It called the situation "temporary."

"The Tampax team is producing tampons 24/7 to meet the increased demand for our products," the company said. "We are working with our retail partners to maximize availability, which has significantly increased over the last several months."

The shortage chatter is happening against a backdrop of rising prices for the products. The average price of tampons has climbed nearly 10 percent in the past year, while prices for menstrual pads rose 8.3 percent, according to data cited by Bloomberg.

The culprit, experts say, is the rising price of raw materials like cotton. As a result, Procter & Gamble has announced new price hikes on top of increases from about a year ago, Bloomberg reported.

“In terms of the speed of the increase, it’s the sharpest I’ve ever seen,” Pricie Hanna, a raw materials consulting expert, told Bloomberg regarding higher costs of raw materials. 

"At this point, people are scratching their heads and saying, 'This is something new,'" Hanna said.