Global diaper shortage feared after Japanese explosion

Parents of young children are expressing concern today after it was reported that an explosion at a Japanese chemical plant could result in a worldwide disposable diaper shortage.

  • The explosion, which killed one firefighter and injured 33 other people, occurred Saturday at a factory operated by Nippon Shokubai co. in the coastal city of Himeji according to Reuters.
  • Reuters Tokyo reported that this company is responsible for close to 20 per cent of the world’s s superabsorbent polymer (SAP) supply. SAPs make up the part of a diaper that absorbs liquid.
    Operations are likely to be halted at this particular plant “for a long time.”

  • World diaper output may take a hit from blasts at Japan plant | Business | Reuters
  • Before the explosion, Nippon Shokubai produced 460,000 tons of acrylic acid (the main component of SAPs) per year, exporting it to companies like Procter and Gamble.

    Futher exacerbating the problem is an increasing demand for SAPs worldwide — particularly in China.

    The plant had already been ramping up production to meet demand and many are worried that this blow could drive diaper prices up and availability in local markets down.

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