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Business spikes for sellers of repellent

Published:Sunday | September 21, 2014 | 9:00 AM

Tameka Gordon, Business Reporter

The onset of the chikungunya virus locally has resulted in increased sales of mosquito repellents, with some merchants and distributors struggling to keep pace with the demand, distributors say.

Vape mosquito repellent manufacturer and distributor, J. Wray & Nephew Distributors, says sales have spiked over the summer.

"I don't have the numbers yet for September, but we have seen a 25 per cent overall increase in sales for August," Vape brand manager, Annakaye Tucker, told Sunday Business, adding the increase in sales was reflective of all Vape products.

Vape is produced by the Agricultural Chemicals division of J. Wray & Nephew under licence for its Japan-based clients, Fumakilla, Tucker said.

J.Wray & Nephew Distributors is also the sole distributor of Vape locally and for the Caribbean.

"Based on the orders that we have been getting, we are having difficulty keeping up with consumption right now," Tucker said.

Skin mist is selling fastest

The mosquito coils normally outpaces the other Vape products but "so far for September, our skin mist is moving the fastest, which is not normally they case," she said.

The skin mist is an insect repellent which contains deet, the product recommended by the Ministry of Health for use against the Aedes aegypti mosquito that transmits the chikungunya virus.

Jamaica has recorded 31 confirmed cases, with indication that infections are spreading.

In a statement to Parliament last Wednesday, Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson said St Mary and Portland were the latest parishes to record confirmed cases.

While 31 cases have been laboratory confirmed overall, Ferguson said 94 have been labelled as suspected cases.

Data provided the Statin does not indicate that imports of mosquito repellents have increased.

Statin, which has data only up to May 2014, said last Thursday that imports of mosquito coils and insect sprays between January and May was valued at $99.4 million, compared to $111.71 million in the similar period last year.

In 2013, imports of the products climbed to a total $266.82 million, from $211.57 the year before.

The data also shows that more money is spent on importing sprays than coils.

Between January and May, coils valued at $36 million were imported, compared to $63 million for insect sprays. The trend was the same for last year.

One local manufacturer, Star Fish Oils, the producers of No Mosquito, All Natural body spray and candles, said they have upped production to keep pace with demand.

"There has definitely been a rush on, so keeping up with the demand is hard," said Charmaine Cummings, the executive assistant to the managing director.

Hundred per cent spike

The company distributes its products through H.D. Hopwood and Company Limited, Cummings said adding the distributor has tripled its order "(because) the stores and pharmacies are out".

"It's over a hundred per cent spike because we would produce for H.D. Hopwood every six weeks, but over the past three weeks they have tripled their order back to back," Cummings said, while declining to state precise production figures. H.D. Hopwood now operates as Massy Distribution.

"Our staff is working overtime and we have been producing more. Right now we have people coming in and leaving late to fulfil these orders," Cummings said.

Massy Distribution's brand manager, Janell Fuller, said her company was having a similar experience.

"It's moving off the shelves and we are actually out of the products now," Fuller said.

She said the company has seen "roughly a 50 per cent" increase in sales of the mosquito repellent products, and was awaiting a new batch for distribution last Thursday.

tameka.gordon@gleanerjm.com