COVID-19 Wiped Out DisinfectantsBy MBN Staff | Tue, 04/14/2020 - 17:21
Manufacturers like Lysol and Clorox were not prepared for the skyrocketing demand in a sector with reliably steady sales that usually only fluctuates during the flu season. As global supply chains are snarled by COVID-19, companies are now failing to meet demand. “Nobody ever expected this to happen and they (disinfectant companies) got caught flatfooted,” says Patrick Penfield, professor of supply chain practice at Syracuse University. “They do not have enough ingredients. They do not have enough capacity.”
Lysol is a product that is currently part of the British company Reckitt Benckiser, but its history spans for 125 years. In 1889, Lysol introduced its first disinfectant in the face of a cholera epidemic in Europe, which made it popular as an indispensable product during outbreaks. When lockdowns and social-distancing measures started arising, Reckitt Benckiser jumped into overdrive, adding overtime and shifts and hunting down alternative facilities to produce more disinfectants. COVID-19, however, is complicating these emergency actions. “Global demand on disinfection products has increased significantly and we are working tirelessly to service consumer demands. We are maximizing the possible production output and expanding our supply network as much as possible”, said a spokeswoman for Reckitt Benckiser.
Other disinfectant products manufacturers are also rushing to churn out as much as they can, as quickly as they can. Clorox, which sells disinfecting wipes, bleach, bathroom and multipurpose cleaners, is “making as many products as possible,” Linda Rendle, who runs the company’s cleaning business, said in a video distributed by Clorox.
Coming back to normality will be a slow process. Tom Derry, CEO of the Institute for Supply Management affirmed that by mid-May, supply chains should return to normal. By June, out-of-stock disinfectants should begin reappearing on store shelves, Derry predicts. But intermittent shortages could persist for months, especially in the fall when people are expected to return to work and children to school.