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Zika fears lead to more insect repellents, sales


Summer always is a strong selling season for insect repellents, but this year has seen sales rise in the category due to consumer worry over the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

According to IRI, sales of insect repellent, which includes rodent control products, topped $506 million in the 52-week period ended June 12, an increase of 4% from the previous year.

The maker of leading insect repellent brand OFF!, SC Johnson, said the company still is preparing for a mosquito season of increased demand. “We’ve taken steps to frontload our production for our current forecast to ensure we and our suppliers have manufacturing capacity to meet demand that may spike above current forecasts,” SC Johnson spokesman Jeff McCollum said. “Here in the United States, in February and March, we saw early demand increases of about 50% over last year.”

Development of new insect-repelling wearables, candles, incense, bands and other natural products also have been on the increase.

Michael Rose, a product developer for Siddah International, worked with Lotus Brands to develop essential oil-based Citronella Outdoor Sticks. “Because of the general concern about Zika, there is an increased interest among consumers in repelling mosquitoes,” Rose said. “Our product uses five different oils synergistically to repel mosquitoes. Based on our research, we are more than twice as effective as other natural products.”

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