Coming soon: A global diaper shortage?

The blast, which killed a firefighter and injured 35 other emergency service workers, occurred after a fire caused by a chemical reaction broke out on Saturday afternoon at a plant operated by Nippon Shokubai Co. in the city of Himeji, close to Osaka in central Japan.

Nippon Shokubai controls the largest share of the world market for super-absorbent polymers, which is used in the production of nappies, and has been expanding its international sales network to keep up with demand.

According to the company, demand is so high that its production facilities have been required to operate at full capacity and it has announced plans to set up production facilities overseas. The company was particularly keen to meet growing demand for disposable nappies in China.