The government's ominous warning Feb. 11 for American households to stock up on bottled water, duct tape and plastic sheeting will not equate to much increased business for companies that manufacture those items, industry experts are predicting.
Houston Keith, owner of Keymark Associates, a consulting firm that serves film and sheet companies, said any increase in production would not be substantial.
``You'll probably see a small surge, but I wouldn't expect to see a huge jump to where it's a 20 percent jump in sales,'' he said.
News reports quoted CIA Director George Tenet advising citizens to use sheeting to protect against a possible chemical or biological attack. Homeland security officials also urged Americans to keep a three-day supply of food and water on hand. The warning came four days after the United States raised its terrorism alert level to ``orange,'' or a high risk of a terrorist strike, the second-highest of the five alert levels.
``The information we have points to plots aimed at targets on two fronts: in the United States and on the Arabian Peninsula. ... And it points to plots that could include the use of a radiological dispersion device as well as poisons and chemicals,'' Tenet said.
Some PET businesses said it is problematic to compare what is happening now with the stockpiling of water some people did in fear of possible Y2K problems.
``The threat is less-defined,'' said Scott McCarty, spokesman for container producer Ball Corp. of Broomfield, Colo. ``In 1999-2000, everyone saw the specific date, time and reason.''
Shelley Steele, director of marketing and communications for Amcor PET Packaging, said the Manchester, Mich.-based company saw a slight hike during December 1999, only to see sales decline again once the Y2K panic had passed.
``There was some upswing and then in January it was down because people had lots of bottled water already,'' she said.
Pliant Corp. spokesman John McCurdy said he would be ``very surprised'' if the latest warnings had any effect on the Schaumburg, Ill., company's film production.
``I don't know how seriously people are taking it,'' he said.
Keith said a portion of the American public is likely to ignore the government's latest warning.
``A certain percentage of people are going to be persuaded to buy and may be stocking up on these items,'' Keith said. ``And a large number of people are going to go along as they were before.''