Coronavirus: Steady supply of toilet paper here, with or without hoarding, says global supplier

Stacks of toilet paper are seen in the FairPrice Benoi Distribution Centre on March 7, 2020.
Stacks of toilet paper are seen in the FairPrice Benoi Distribution Centre on March 7, 2020.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - Toilet paper supply can be replenished quickly and there are no signs that it will run out any time soon, leading toilet paper supplier Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) has said.

Mr Bernard Tan, Singapore's president for Sinar Mas, a group of companies of which APP is a part, said the recent toilet paper frenzy due to the Covid-19 outbreak does not mean that demand has increased, but rather that demand has been brought forward.

In earlier weeks, shelves of toilet paper had been emptied out in supermarkets both here and abroad.

Mr Tan said in an interview with The Straits Times on Sunday (April 5) that domestic demand for toilet paper here is about 28 million rolls a month, or about five rolls per person.

"But Singaporeans are starting to hoard toilet paper in the region of three to four months ahead, even though usage doesn't increase. So if a person uses five rolls a month, now they are stocking up 15 rolls.

"This frenzy that we have is quite irrational. People do want to have security in making sure they have clean products ready, but I don't think Singapore is even close to running out of it in the future," added Mr Tan, noting that Singapore has many other toilet paper suppliers, aside from APP.

Other suppliers here include Taisin Paper, Sanichem Industries and Grandzo.

APP's headquarters is based in Indonesia and much of its production is done there. Its products are marketed in more than 150 countries across six continents.

"We don't foresee people using more toilet paper in this period. But they are buying more because it's non-perishable and you can keep it for a very long period of time."

 
 
 

Because toilet paper is a low-value item that occupies much space, many retailers do not keep large inventories, he said.

"In Singapore, retailers usually hold about four weeks of inventory at a normal time because it can be replenished quickly; lead time is very short," he said.

Producing and converting pulp into tissue, packaging and shipping it out - all this takes around two to six weeks, including the lag time of movements in between each stage.

Over the next few weeks, APP will be shipping in to Singapore 200 containers of toilet paper amounting to about 10 million rolls, said Mr Tan.

"If demand continues, we will continue to step up production."