Toilet Paper Manufacturers Worry About Keeping Up With Demand: ‘What We Are Dealing With Here Is Uncharted’

An elderly woman stands before empty shelves of sold out toilet paper and paper towels at a drug store on March 9, 2020 in Berlin, Germany.
Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many people around the world are rushing to supermarkets and other stores to stockpile goods. In some stores, panicked consumers have been consistently clearing the shelves of all products. One household staple, toilet paper, has become the symbol of coronavirus panic buying as stores are cleared of rolls as soon as they hit the shelves. As a result, companies that manufacture these products are struggling to keep up with demand, as originally reported by CNN.

Many toilet paper manufacturers were already operating their facilities 24 hours a day, seven days a week prior to the disease outbreak. Many are finding it incredibly difficult to keep up the constant production as facilities shut down due to the pandemic. If the essential workers and contractors who are currently left operating the facilities fall ill, companies are unsure of how they will continue resupplying the paper good.

Tom Sellars, CEO of Sellars Absorbent Materials, which processes and converts paper-related products, commented on the phenomenon.

“If you ask me why everyone is grabbing toilet paper, I can’t really explain it. It’s not like we are suddenly using more of it. But the surge in demand could strain the supply chain.”

Workers at Potlatch Corporation Consumer Products Division trim two huge parent rolls of tissue paper, weighing 4500 pounds, February 9, 2006 in Lewiston, Idaho.
  Jeff T. Green / Getty Images

Another paper company, Georgia Pacific, which manufactures toilet paper brands Angel Soft and Quilted Northern, revealed that as of last week, orders from retailers had almost doubled and that they had shipped 20 percent more than their typical capacity. American Forest & Paper Association, a group that represents paper product manufacturers, reiterated that producers are working hard to keep up with demand.

The CEO of the American Forest & Paper Association, Heidi Brock, assured consumers that toilet paper and tissue products would continue to be produced and shipped.

“Rest assured, tissue products continue to be produced and shipped — just as they are 52 weeks each year as part of a global market.”

Co-owner of ST Paper & Tissue, Sahil Tak is another in the business that is concerned about the spike in demand. His business has been getting extra calls in recent weeks from retailers desperate to restock their paper product supplies. However, Tak says that their supply is tight at the moment and that they already have over 200 employees running a 24/7 operation. He also worries about what will happen if his employees catch the virus and are unable to work.

“What we are dealing with here is uncharted. What if facilities have to shut down if workers become sick?”