Last week, for example, Dow Chemical announced a 20 percent across-the-board price increase on its products, which range from antifreeze to cleaning fluids to pharmaceuticals.
Similar moves are expected. "It's just the tip of the iceberg," says Ann Paulins, director of the School of Human and Consumer Sciences at Ohio University in Athens. "The retailers can't absorb it all."
"We're talking increased raw materials, packaging, transportation, the whole ball of wax," says Jo Natale, a spokeswoman. "We have tried to absorb as many increases as possible to remain competitive, but we have reached the point where retail prices have to go up."
Late this spring, the CEOs of some major consumer-products companies also said they had to start to recoup higher energy costs.