You may recall our glowing review of Petal, the frozen trash can. I tested it, loved it, felt more deep affection than one should feel for a trash can, and grudgingly shipped back the sample model. Then I returned to emptying my food waste more than once every two weeks. Fruit flies reappeared. I counted the days until my new Petal would arrive in January, when preordered models ship.
Alas, that day has been postponed. Petal has pushed freeze, stopping production to free up supply chain space for the freezers needed to store hundreds of millions of vaccines. (Both Pfizer and Moderna are producing RNA-based vaccines, which need to be kept extremely cold at -70 and -20 degrees C, respectively.)
Just two months ago, Petal announced a partnership with appliance-maker Danby as its sole authorized manufacturer. That was a lifetime ago: In the interim, we elected a new president, pharmaceutical companies declared successful trial results for subzero vaccines, and two weeks ago, Danby announced a new line of four ultra low-temperature freezers.
“We are pulling out all the stops. Its a top priority of the company,” said Jim Estill, CEO of Danby, in a statement. “A vaccine is no good if it can’t be distributed and stored.”
Five days later, Petal founders David Taffet and Christie Zwahlen sent a letter to customers, noting that their manufacturing costs had spiked by over 275%.
“This means we cannot currently or in the foreseeable future cost-effectively manufacture and deliver our product to you. While this saddens us, we strongly believe that perfecting and delivering a COVID vaccine should be the world’s #1 priority, and we applaud appliance manufacturers for their focus on this effort.”
They noted that supply chains have been further squeezed by high demand for fridges and freezers from pandemic home dwellers.
Petal has refunded all of its preorders, and hopes for a less dramatic production run post-pandemic. Somehow I will go on. You can join the wait list here.