Toilet paper companies: ‘What we are dealing with here is uncharted’

As the coronavirus outbreak spreads, households across the country are hunkering down and emptying out store shelves.

Toilet paper has a become the ultimate symbol of the panic buying; it’s seemingly scooped up as soon as new rolls hit the shelves.

Companies that help supply these everyday paper products are stunned and trying to adjust to this rapidly evolving new normal in consumer behavior.

They’re faced with tradeoffs. Many were already operating their manufacturing facilities 24/7 prior to the pandemic. Now, some are limiting their facilities to essential workers and contractors. It’s unclear, however, what they will do in the event that those workers get sick.

“If you ask me why everyone is grabbing toilet paper, I can’t really explain it,” said Tom Sellars, CEO of Sellars Absorbent Materials in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His company is a processor and converter of paper and related products. “It’s not like we are suddenly using more of it. But the surge in demand could strain the supply chain,” he said.

Georgia Pacific, the maker of Angel Soft and Quilted Northern toilet paper, said that last week, some orders from retailers nearly doubled. The company managed to ship out 20% more than its normal capacity. And the American Forest & Paper Association, an industry group representing paper product makers, noted the industry is working hard to respond to the sudden spike in demand.

“Rest assured, tissue products continue to be produced and shipped — just as they are 52 weeks each year as part of a global market,” AFPA’s CEO Heidi Brock said in a statement.

But that doesn’t mean it will be easy work for the factories.

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Post time: Jun-16-2022