panjivaThe big hit for the holidays is going to be, uh, hand sanitizers. Panjiva did a deep dive on its global shipping data and found that the swine flu’s spread has prompted a big rise in hand sanitizer shipments, which more than doubled in the third quarter compared to a year ago.

The data shows there were 128 waterborne hand sanitizer shipments to the U.S., compared to 56 shipments in the third quarter of 2008. By weight, the shipments more than tripled. It may sound trivial, but this is the kind of data that can help companies avoid billion-dollar mistakes because they ordered the wrong things in an inventory buildup.

That’s the sort of data you can dig out from taking a deep dive into global trade data. The information comes courtesy of Panjiva, which collects data on global trade and sifts through it to find little nuggets. Panjiva’s technology was developed by James Psota, chief technology officer and a computer scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The company was founded in 2006.

The company mines data from a variety of public and private sources and then turns it into information that is useful for global supply chain managers. It’s one of the real-time sources of data that should enable companies to figure out supply and demand changes.