The plague-like response to the coronavirus has forced Australia’s biggest grocer, Woolworths, to introduce toilet roll limits amid panic buying by customers.
Fears over the coronavirus becoming a pandemic have reportedly seen shelves empty in some grocery stores with things like rice, bottled water, pasta and lavatory rolls in high demand.
In response, Woolworths said it will be limiting the number of toilet paper packs to four per person.
In a statement, Woolies said: “It will help shore up stock levels as suppliers ramp up local production and deliveries in response to higher than usual demand.”
It will also limit purchases of hand sanitiser to two per person and will sell it from behind the service desk, a space usually reserved for the cigarettes.
On marketplace websites, several ads have appeared advertising packs of toilet paper for hundreds of dollars.
However, social media users have slammed the hoarders. “They will sell it on EBay for five times the price if there is a shortage,” wrote one. “Dumb c@nts. These people actually vote,” penned another.
While another added: “It’s all good saying we won’t run out, Solaris Paper and Kimberly Clark make it here ….. but the paper/pulp comes from China , the warehouses would have surplus pulp stock, they say don’t panic but like everything ( Christmas shops are shut for like two days ) people go into panic mode.”
In response, Australia’s biggest toilet paper manufacturer – the Adelaide-based Kimberly-Clark – has said it has stepped-up production to 24-hours, seven days.
However, a report in yesterday’s AFR said that Australia’s lavatory roll industry was well positioned to handle the increase in demand.
“We have the ability to respond to demand fluctuations very quickly,” said Kimberly-Clark’s mill manager Adam Carpenter. He added that demand for the factory’s toilet rolls, tissues and paper towels “ebbs and flows all the time”.
That said, charity loo roll maker Who Gives A Crap has declared it has sold out. Issuing the following statement:
Mercifully, things aren’t as bad in Australia as they are overseas. In mid-February, brazen thieves in Hong Kong made world headlines after robbing a truck of toilet rolls following shortages bought on by panic buying.
The knife wielding bandits were later caught by police with some $A320 worth of papery contraband in their possession.
The other problem for Australian food producers is that a lot of packaging is made in China and these factories are currently closed.
“I don’t think we want another week or two of this. If there’s no production or packaging in from China by the end of March, it’d be getting serious,” Ritchies Supa IGA chief executive Fred Harrison telling Nine’s newspapers.
In a blog post, University of Queensland virologist Ian Mackay suggested stocking up on essentials such as prescription medications, toilet rolls and canned foods. But he added there was no need to hoard supplies.
“Don’t buy things you won’t eat later, don’t hoard and don’t buy more than you’ll need for a two-week period. We’re not talking zombie apocalypse,” Mackay wrote.
Prime minister Scott Morrison has also lead of chorus of pollies calling for calm in Australia’s grocery aisles.
“I am sure that will come as a great relief to everybody,” SoMo said of the nation’s ability to keep up with toilet roll demand. And, arguably, missing the double entendre in the process.
“That is the economy in motion, that is private companies assessing their own risk plans and responding to them.”
Morrison said he’d also spoken to the CEOs of both Coles and Woolworths and been assured that essential items wouldn’t run out.
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