Washington D.C. – Ahead of Mother’s Day, government watchdog Accountable.US released a new analysis of the increased prices and profits of ten major corporations, including Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, and Kimberly-Clark, that specialize in consumer goods needed by mothers, parents, and babies. The research found that these companies saw their profits soar by an additional $18 billion to a total of over $69 billion, and rewarded shareholders with over $69 billion in stock buybacks and dividends in their 2021 fiscal years.
As a Mom, I find it galling that corporations can keep a straight face about supporting families while they hike up prices on every child care product imaginable from diapers to baby formula. As women, especially women of color, navigate a fragile economic recovery, corporations can’t claim to be allies this Mother’s Day as they unapologetically increase prices on essential goods that working families need to survive. Once again, major corporations are insulting the intelligence of their consumers by pretending they have no choice but to raise their prices when in reality they’re reporting billions in extra profits and shareholder handouts. If corporations truly want to practice what they preach, they can start by keeping their prices stable on household staples rather than use their higher prices to pad their pockets at the expense of struggling families.”
Liz Zelnick, spokesperson for Accountable.US
The latest report follows Accountable.US’ previous research over the last several months on how clear pandemic profiteering and corporate greed from big oil, meat packing, trucking, retail and railroad companies are making inflation/supply chain problems worse for everyday consumers.
Procter & Gamble (P&G), which accounted for 44% of market share in the U.S. diaper market as of 2017, “increased pricing” on its baby care products to “protect its profit margins.” The company saw its FY 2021 profits increase 10% to $14.3 billion and returned $19.3 billion to shareholders––a $4.1 billion increase from FY 2020––with its most recent quarter showing continued profit growth.
Kimberly-Clark, which calls itself a “pioneer and global leader” of baby and child care products and accounted for 37% of the U.S. diaper market as of 2017, raised prices on the majority of its consumer products in 2021, saw a FY 2021 net income of $1.8 billion, and increased its dividend after paying out $1.5 billion in FY 2021.
Johnson & Johnson––which boasts of its long history “supporting mothers & babies“––admitted to “looking to pass” cost increases onto consumers through “select price increases” and saw its 2021 net earnings increase by over $6 billion to $20.8 billion and increased shareholder handouts to $14.4 billion.
Abbott Laboratories––which owns prominent baby formula brands such as Similac and Pedialyte––said the company had “the flexibility” to increase prices as it saw its net earnings climb to nearly $7.1 billion, a 57.3% increase YoY, and spent over $2 billion on stock buybacks and $3.2 billion on dividends.
Mattel—whose brand Fisher-Price had the top selling toy for babies and infants in 2021—announced it would raise prices ahead of the 2021 holiday season—even as it saw its net income jump 631% to $903 million, expected an even “stronger” 2022, and was poised to spend as much as $200 million on future stock buybacks.