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J&J unveils 'peat moss' sanitary napkin.

J&J Unveils 'Peat Moss' Sanitary Napkin

Putting to rest years of industry speculation and curiosity, it has been revealed that Johnson & Johnson, New Brunswick, NJ, is launching a line of very thin sanitary napkins with an absorbent core of processed sphagnum peat moss.

The technology has been under significant research and development efforts for nearly 15 years, but it appears as if the wait may be worth it. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the new technology and process yields a pad that the company claims has the same absorbency as traditional pads but is one-fifth the thickness of standard sanitary pads. Most remarkably, J&J also claims its peat pad is slightly thinner and performs better than ultra thin pads that use superabsorbent polymers.

The pad, called "Sure & Natural Prima," is just being stocked on store shelves in Canada. As of early March J&J had not started advertising the products and would not say when, or if, the product will be introduced in the U.S.

The peat moss technology was developed by the company's Montreal-based Canadian unit, but the Canadian launch may have more to do with marketing realities than corporate loyalties. The product, even if it is truly thinner and more absorbent, may have a tough time gaining acceptance and J&J could conceivably be using the smaller Canadian market as a testing ground.

According to WSJ, the peat moss core of Sure & Natural Prima is visible through the pads white outer linings as a dark, rectangular middle layer. Getting consumers to try any new sanitary napkin is difficult and the brown color may make their acceptance even more difficult. J&J apparently plans extensive free sampling to encourage women to try the product. Other researchers who have tried to bleach peat moss have found that it decreases its absorbency.

The peat moss in J&J's pad is reportedly compressed into rolls or mats and can absorb 20 times its own weight.

J&J is not promoting what makes its product so unique, however, perhaps out of fear that women will find the idea of using peat moss too unappealing. The packaging for the pad says only that the "unique, highly absorbent core is from nature."

J&J has been losing sanitary napkin market share to both Procter & Gamble and Kimberly-Clark in the U.S. and needs a successful new product to regain its lost luster. K-C is estimated to have a 30% share of the domestic market, J&J 29% and P&G 26%.
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Markets For Nonwovens; Johnson and Johnson, Sure and Natural Prima, sanitary napkin
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Date:Apr 1, 1991
Words:423
Previous Article:INDA-TEC '91.
Next Article:Say it ain't so, P&G.
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