Tide Pods dominate the single-dose detergent market

Single-use laundry detergent packs have been called an emerging public health hazard by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Last month, the Consumer Products Safety Commission issued a safety alert for the packs, calling them harmful to children. Those warnings have done little to squash demand for Tide Pods, which are projected to reach $500 million in first-year sales for Procter & Gamble.

To put that figure in context, only one in five new consumer-packaged-goods launched in 2001 hits even $50 million in first-year sales, according to Advertising Age. Not surprisingly, Tide Pods dominate the single-use laundry detergent category, claiming 73 percent of the $309 million dollar market.

In Consumer Reports latest Ratings of laundry detergents, Tide Pods were the only single-use product that cleaned well enough to make our recommended list. Advertising Age notes that Tide Pods are particularly popular among college students and apartment dwellers—two groups with fewer small children than, say, occupants of single-family homes.

Nonetheless, we'll continue to call on the industry to develop adequate child-safe packaging, as well as prominent warning labels, for these products. And manufacturers should consider changing the color of these pods or package them in opaque wrapping or plastic that will make them less appealing to children.

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