Which Product Shortages Are Finally Seeing Relief?

New research gauges demand for recent high-profile OOS items
Lynn Petrak
Senior Editor
a woman smiling for the camera
Tampon shortage
Some of this summer's acute product shortages, including tampons, baby formula and sriracha sauce, seem to be easing, according to recent data.

It was a shortage that, for many Americans, turned into a crisis and spurred an online social media marketplace in which people sought and sold their own products. Even President Biden got involved, invoking the Defense Production Act to help parents and caregivers get access to infant formula.

Now that production of baby formula is ramping up again at a Michigan facility run by Abbott Nutrition, the shortages and subsequent demand are coming down from their high-profile peak three months ago. The Market Watch site shared information from Datasembly showing that there were 25% more infant formula products available on store shelves in mid-August compared to late May, with a current national out-of-stock (OOS) rate of 61%.

“Beyond certain supply chain efficiencies and the reopening of the manufacturing plant, our data is demonstrating that there are additional factors that are helping the category to recover, including product consolidations and new foreign products entering the market. We are definitely seeing a positive trend to the availability of infant formula across the nation,” said Ben Reich, Datasembly founder and CEO, in a statement.

Fresh insights from global e-commerce accelerator Pattern back up that trend. Tracking consumer behavior on Amazon’s online platform, Pattern found that demand for infant formula in August thus far is 121% higher than this time last year, compared to year-over-year (YoY) rates of 299% in July, 716% in June and a whopping 2,369% in May.

Pattern also took a look at other items that have been experiencing high OOS rates and frustrating shoppers around the country. This summer’s tampon shortage seems to be ebbing, too, with a 35% increase in demand for early August versus this time last year. That’s down from a 52% hike in demand in July and a 426% spike in June.

Likewise, demand for sriracha sauce is slowing down, with a 216% YoY demand in August so far, stacked against a 233% hike in July and a 649% surge in June. Supplies had been tight due to weather-related situations on chili pepper farms. 

Other data shows that supplies of chicken wings are built back up, following headline-making shortages throughout the pandemic linked to strong demand from at-home consumers and processing plant labor shortfalls. A key measure of supply and demand – price reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture – show that chicken wing prices dropped to $1.30 a pound this month, compared to a high of $3.25 a pound in May 2021.

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