Dish detergent shortage creates soapy concern


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A concern over dish soap is bubbling up across the internet over fears of a shortage during the next two months.

Right now some consumers are treating dishwashing soap like liquid gold because some brands are in short supply.

The shortage only involves Proctor & Gamble products like Gain and Dawn— but it’s got some folks in a lather.

If you roll down the detergent aisle in some stores like Walmart, you could see signs telling you there’s a nationwide shortage of dish soap that could last until December 1st.

Some folks aren’t worried.

“We always buy the big jug of it and it lasts a couple of months—so I don’t worry about stocking up on it too much,” said shopper Pam Shirley.

But others are concerned—especially after images started flooding the internet a couple of weeks ago showing store shelves with signs that said there’s a temporary, nationwide shortage of dish washing soap.

The internet activity prompted Proctor & Gamble to issue a statement saying demand had temporarily exceeded supply.

Consumer investigator Steve Sbraccia wanted to know if this sudsy problem is happening everywhere in our viewing area—so he checked a number of grocery stores.

Some were limiting dish washing detergent to one-per-customer while others had plenty of the soapy-stuff on hand.

For example, at Carlie C’s in Garner had their shelves stocked with Gain and Dawn—both Proctor and Gamble products.

The store told Sbraccia they haven’t heard about any shortages from their distributor who supplies 600 stores in the southeast.

Dish soap is a huge industry.

The Wall Street Journal says dish soap generates $1.6 billion in sales and Proctor and Gamble owns 60 percent of that market.

Some shoppers say when they hear about a shortage they engage in panic buying. 

“I go stock up,” says Jerline Spence.  “I buy as much as I can while it’s available.”

Sbraccia asked shoppers if they were worried about that kind of buying creating shortages where none exist.

“It might possibly do that,” admitted Valarie Smith, “but it’s first come—first serve to stock up on dish washing detergent like that.”

P & G hasn’t explained why the supply of Dawn and Gain was interrupted originally, and some wonder if the dwindling supplies were made worse by social media postings.

Some business experts speculate Walmart was harder hit by the temporary interruption in supply because they say that company tends to keep fewer inventory on hand than other retailers.

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