Peanut allergies and invisible demand

it's a consequence of automated demand prediction: the product isn't in inventory, sothere's no demand.

My three year old attends a pre-school with a bunch of other kids, one of whom has an extreme contact allergy to peanut oils. As a result we don't keep peanut butter around the house because we don't want our little guy to be responsible for traumas inflicted on his school friend.

I've tried to find a good cleaning  solution but it turns out there's peanut oil in a lot of soaps and no easily consumer accessible way of identifying peanut residue. In response I've written to five companies that make hand wipes, asking them to make one specifically for nut allergens and suggesting that they embed a marker chemical that gives a visual cue when the wipe contacts an allergen. i.e. Wash your hands until you no longer see red stains appearing on the wipe.

A product like that would be great for everyone affected - parents, teachers, hospital staff, and the kids themselves. Since roughly 1.5% of grade school and younger kids in the United States and Canada now show some symptoms of allergies like this, the market is huge. It's also diverse and highly motivated - a web business making and selling wipes could be a multi-million dollar hit.

So how many potential suppliers have I heard from? None.

That's not just the Not Invented Here syndrome at work and it's not just a response to legal risks: it's also partially a consequence of automated demand prediction: the product isn't in inventory, so there's no demand.

That's a general consequence of automation combined with cost pressure - but it's destroying product innovation everywhere. Bottom line: if you work anywhere in a supply chain: go talk to customers, ask them about the stuff they wanted, but didn't find. That's how we used to do it, and therefore a big part of the reason there used to be thirty yogurt ice cream flavors where you now find four or five, why early personal computers showed diversity and modern ones don't, why brand X just isn't a lot different from brand Y anymore.

(As an aside: if you know of a hand wipe solution or can help on the development and manufacturing side, let's talk. I can do the sales side and have an idea that should greatly reduce the legal risks.)

Newsletters

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
See All
See All