Diaper shortage hits US amid COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain issues

Many American families are having a hard time finding diapers for their infants and toddlers as the National Diaper Bank Network said 1 in 3 American families are in need of the baby item. 

The network suggested to the New York Times the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the global supply chain is likely the reason the country is seeing a diaper shortage. 

Companies are facing a labor shortage and difficulty getting imports from countries that have been placed on a temporary lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

There’s also a backup of cargo ships at California ports, preventing goods from being delivered to stores. According to The Wall Street Journal, tens of thousands of containers were stuck at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California, the two West Coast gateways that move more than a quarter of all American imports. More than 60 ships were lined up to dock, with waiting times stretching to three weeks.

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On top of that, the price of diapers has risen. It’s estimated that infants require up to 12 diapers per day, costing between $70 and $80 a month per baby. 

During the spring, Kimberly-Clark announced price hikes for its products like Huggies diapers and Scott toilet paper. Proctor & Gamble also announced in April its prices would increase in September in three categories — baby care, feminine and adult incontinence — due to the rising raw material costs needed to produce the products.

"We continually strive to find the right balance between ensuring superior value for our consumers and operating our business sustainably for the long term," P&G previously said in a statement to FOX Television Stations. "Innovation and serving our consumers is at the heart of what we do."

NDBN said government programs — including food stamps and WIC — do not provide funding for diapers. 

"The scarcity of this basic needs item means many of the caregivers we serve who already struggle with getting essentials are unable to support their families," Seattle-based WestSide Baby, a diaper bank, said on its website

NDBN is calling on people to donate diapers to diaper banks across the country which are also having trouble keeping up amid the shortage. The network is comprised of more than 200 community-based diaper banks, diaper pantries, and food banks working to help babies and their families in 50 states and Washington, D.C.

This story was reported from Los Angeles.