While finding toilet paper and paper towels has become a little easier they are still far from plentiful and we all want to know why.
So imagine the questions you might face if you worked for one of the world’s largest suppliers of those products.
“We have family and friends all over the map and we’re being asked all about that,” Eric Abercrombie said.
He lives in Atlanta where his company Georgia-Pacific is headquartered.
Like other paper product companies, Georgia-Pacific was taken by surprise at the start of the pandemic, according to Abercrombie.
“We saw a consumer spike in purchasing. We saw that several weeks back where we saw our retail demand go about two times,” he said.
Early on, the problem with supply catching up with demand seemed to be on the demand end.
Some experts attributed the shortage to consumer panic that led to hoarding.
But that should have cleared up weeks ago.
So Georgia-Pacific, using industry and census data, did some calculating.
Turns out, now that most people are using the bathroom solely at home, and not in commercial businesses, the demand for toilet paper made for home usage is up a whopping 40 percent, according to the paper company, which along with other manufacturers, is trying hard to make up the difference.
“We’re still also seeing demand on the commercial side as well as the consumer side,” he said. “So on the consumer side, people need it for their homes. We’ve got some information out there that we’re seeing probably about a 40 percent or so increase in the use at home because people are sheltering in place as they should. But we are also seeing demand on our commercial side, specifically healthcare, a lot of our grocers are asking for product as well, manufacturing still needs it. So we still see supply requests on both sides of the coin.”
Abercrombie says Georgia-Pacific is even shipping directly to some grocers to try to ramp up supplies.
“We’re making product as quick as we can, shipping it out fast as we can. And it’s just a matter of time of the supply catching up to the consumer’s demand out there,” he said.
But he’s reluctant to predict when everyone will be able to find toilet paperand paper towels any time they need them.
“It’s kind of hard to say if it will get back to normal by this date because there’s a lot of factors that are involved in that,” he said.
So when you’re tempted to curse the empty shelves on the paper aisle remember, if there’s one positive thing in all this, we’ve learned to appreciate things we took for granted before, things like essential workers, schools, eating out, and, yes, even toilet paper.