Rising cost of baby products puts pressure on families

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The price of diapers has increased over the past two years.

Chris McKeen / Stuff

The price of diapers has increased over the past two years.

The rising cost of diapers and formula is forcing some parents to sacrifice other basics.

Beth, mum of Wellington, who did not want to be identified, said the cost of nappies for her 21-month-old son cut a large chunk of her family’s grocery bills, putting pressure on their grocery budget already tight.

“We used to buy Huggies Jumbo boxes and look online to see who had a special, and we could usually find them for $28, but now we’re lucky to find them on special for $34,” she said.

“I feel for low income families right now because this cost increase seems to be across all brands of diapers but as an essential item we all have to shell out and pay if we don’t use diapers in fabric.”

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On Friday, a box of Huggies jumbo diapers was $42 at Countdown, while its ultra dry bulk packs of 30, 36 or 44 diapers were $24.50 or two for $29.50.

At Pak ‘n Save, the Huggies line of diapers were priced under $30.

She had tried cheaper brands in the past, but found the quality less reliable. However, she had chosen to buy the cheapest brands for the day and the most expensive for the night.

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She said she wished she had invested in cloth diapers as soon as her son was born in 2020.

“The cost difference was minimal, so we opted for the convenience of disposable products. These days, I would have gone the cloth diaper route because prices are getting harder and harder to track.

Under Working for Families, families with a newborn can get $65 a week until the child is 1 year old.

The payment was $60 when Beth gave birth in 2020, and it covered the cost of diapers, wipes and formula, she said.

“But now that would probably only cover diapers and formula milk.”

The price of infant formula has also increased over the past two years.

Vadim Ginzburg/123rf

The price of infant formula has also increased over the past two years.

Single mum Amy Murdoch said she was worried about other parents who would face financial hardship, after buying two boxes of S26 Gold formula for $31.99 at Countdown Chartwell in Hamilton.

“I usually shop at Pak ‘n Save on Clarence St, paying no more than $27 a box for the exact same item,” she said.

She said she had to choose between feeding her baby or buying vegetables.

Pricing data shows that the cost of 900g of formula rose from $20.03 in January 2019 to $21.71 in January this year.

Kimberly-Clark owns Huggies, and a spokesperson said final diaper pricing is ultimately determined by the retailer.

But external headwinds, including raw material cost inflation, have intensified pressures on supply chains.

“The prices introduced earlier this year reflect the adjustments we had to make in response to them.

“We recognize the role our brands play in the daily lives of millions of New Zealanders, and we are committed to ensuring they continue to get the value they expect.”

A Countdown spokesperson said it was receiving a record number of cost increases from its suppliers every week.

“We recently received a cost increase from our infant formula supplier, who informed us that their company is experiencing increased costs due to global shipping issues and rising commodity prices,” said she declared.

“This increase is what our customers see on the shelf.”

She said the supermarket was working to include more baby products in its Great Price program, which offers customers cheaper prices for longer.


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