It has been a long time coming, but very soon, we will have a new comfort range to replace the current plastic line.
I know this won't make many of you happy, but unfortunately, it is what it is. We've done what we can do to change Abena's mind, and... it may have actually helped!
I know you're all itching to hear the details, but first a history lesson!
Abena first introduced the Air-Plus about 6 or so years ago. It quickly gained a foot hold in the market, and has been eating away at the plastic range ever since.
In 2011, Abena introduced the Air-Plus "Premium". This created a bit of a buzz. Many people worried the plastic range was due to be discontinued, and they had reason to worry! Abena stopped making any reference to the plastic range on their website. However, this scare was forgotten, as at the time, the Air-Plus still didn't have enough of the market to warrant discontinuing the plastic.
However, I, being still paranoid about the situation, decided to investigate this issue myself. In October, I contacted several people to find out what the status was. Shockingly, I received this statement from Abena themselves:
"Abena is determined to be up front in concerning market demand and quality. Therefore we are also planning to move more and more in the direction of textile back sheets. However we are right now in the decision making process."
The reason this was so shocking is because the distributors I contacted were oblivious to these changes!
Abena was poised to discontinue the plastic range by the end of 2011, with the last day of production scheduled for January 12th 2012.
Thankfully, more people than myself were keen to this change, and Gary Evans, the owner XP Medical arranged a meeting with Abena. He allegedly went with with several pages of complaints about the Air-Plus Premium's several short-comings. Amazingly, days later, we received this from Abena:
Normally I/we would have contacted you differently concerning updates on what the future will be for M4 + L4 in the Comfort range but since Christmas is coming within a few hours here in Denmark, I decided to quickly give you some feedback on what will happen to the above products as this is important for us all.
Based on the concerns you had on the consequences of especially moving M4 + L4 from PE and all the way to Premium (M4 + L4 will not be in the Comfort TBS range) it was this morning decided to put this project on hold for North America, so you will also after the 1st of February be able to purchase M4 + L4 in PE. As these two products accounts for a very large volume of our sales in the US, we will over the next 6 month have to find/decide on what the final assortment for the US/Canada should be. Having 4 ranges in our assortment (Delta TBS (future) Comfort PE, Comfort TBS and Premium) is not ideal.
As for the rest of Comfort PE range, we will not discontinue right now, but I still expect that we will not continue with the whole range for a long period. I hope to have more on this in the beginning of January.
I hope this helps and comforts many of the users out there. It has never been in our interest not to supply what users wants, but we still want to influence if we can. In the next month we will have to look further into the disadvantages of TBS/Premium from the point of end-users in North America, as we have not had any negative feedback from other markets. Our goal would be eventually to supply similar products to all markets. Will not be easy but maybe by working closer together on this project we might succeed ?
From us here in Denmark, we wish you all a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Med venlig hilsen / Best regards
Abena International A/S"
A huge victory for the plastic range! It managed to ensure the M4/L4 in plastic for the year 2012 at least.
Since that, though, many users reported quality issues with the plastic Abenas. There were, in fact, problems with them. The plastic was thinner and louder. The leak guards were weaker. The product itself was lighter, and less flood resistant. A huge disappointment, as now we had sub-par plastic, or sub-par cloth!
I, and others, attributed this change to the upgrades Abena made to their machines to make the switch to cloth. I believe the issues are largely worked out now, and the quality is acceptable again.
Now, it has been four and a half months... We've heard nothing... Until now...
Abena is now working on the replacement comfort line, and a few details are starting to trickle in...
The new Comfort line will undoubtedly be cloth, but from what I understand, it will NOT be breathable!
So, What exactly does that mean?
Well, I can really only speculate until Abena gives me more information. However, the are two possibilities:
1. The new comfort line will be a completely redesigned diaper. It will include a plastic back-sheet covered by a cloth outer layer to address the leaking issues that plague the Air-Plus "Premium"
2. The new comfort line will be mostly the same as the current one. It will, however, have a cloth covering.
Based on the way things have transpired this past year, I'm leaning more towards option 2.
I honestly can't see Abena addressing the quality problems associated with the current Comfort line if they didn't intend to keep it largely the same.
So, what can we expect the new Comfort line to be like? Like I said, at this time, details are VERY limited...
What I expect is as follows:
Back sheet: The back sheet will still be largely plastic based. It will be covered with a cloth layer. I think they will keep the stretchy rear waistband. I have requested they keep this feature as I really do like it! I expect the designs to remain almost exactly the same. (Not revised to the look like the "Premium")
Wings: The wings will be completely cloth, very similar to the "Pemium". I am hoping they will be slightly thicker, but I'm not sure that will happen.
Fasteners: I'm pretty sure Abena will continue to use tapes as fasteners. I think the tapes on the Comfort line will remain different from the "Premium", though. They may keep the tapes as they are currently.
Like I said earlier, at this point, most of that IS speculation. What we are fairly certain of is the back sheet. As more concrete details arise, they will be posted.
But, one way or another, a new Comfort line is coming, whether we like it or not!