The Friday Report: April 3rd, 2020 SPECIAL COVID-19 EDITION

Quick wrap up of a few hot topic newsworthy stories in the supply chain logistics industry

SOLVED:  The Great Pandemic Toilet Paper Mystery

According to companies that produce toilet paper including Proctor & Gamble and Georgia Pacific, there is no actual shortage of toilet paper, even though demand currently exceeds supply.  Although paper goods are still being produced rapidly, the moment it hits the shelves of retailers, it is gone.

Is the American public hoarding toilet paper during the pandemic or is there a different explanation?

It turns out that there is a perfectly reasonable explanation. 

With the big shift towards sheltering in place, the average American household is estimated to use 40% more toilet paper than usual, if all household members are remaining at home around the clock.  This is because American workers are no longer using restrooms in their places of employment-in office buildings, industrial facilities, educational institutions, airports, hotels and restaurants.  The toilet paper used in these facilities is commercial grade.  This is different than the toilet paper made for consumers to use at home.  Commercial-grade toilet paper is actually a different product, thinner and too large to fit on the toilet paper dispensers used in homes.  Individually wrapped rolls of commercial grade toilet paper are shipped on huge pallets rather than in brand name packages of six, twelve or eighteen rolls.

Commercial grade toilet paper is made at entirely different mills than the consumer grade product and often uses more recycled fiber.  The distribution channels for commercial grade products are different than those for consumer grade.  To redirect supplies of commercial grade toilet paper to the consumer market would have its own challenges, requiring new relationships and agreements between suppliers, distributors and retailers.  In addition, the formats for packaging and shipping these goods, the trucking routes required would all be different.  This is problematic for a product with a lean profit margin.

By comparison, consumer-grade toilet paper is typically manufactured close to major metropolitan centers because it is a high-bulk, relatively low-cost item and low in value-density.  This means that there is minimal incentive for manufacturers to ship goods long distances.  The United States imports a higher percentage of toilet paper than most other countries and typically sources it from either Canada or Mexico.

So now that the great toilet paper mystery of 2020 has been solved, if you are looking for toilet paper, consider reaching out to alternative outlets such as janitorial, commercial or restaurant supply companies.  It should work just fine.

Distilleries Step in to Make Hand Sanitizer

In these troubled times across the world, average citizens and businesses are stepping forward to fill critical needs.  In fighting COVID-19, using hand sanitizer can mean the difference between safety and infection.  The problem is that demand severely exceeds supply.  Riding to the rescue, distilleries!

 From Anheuser-Busch to Kentucky bourbon, breweries and distilleries are shifting production away from making spirits and beer to make much-needed hand sanitizer with a minimum of 60 percent alcohol.  Most companies are producing hand sanitizer to give the product to local health professionals, nursing and retirement homes or charitable organizations.  Others allow consumers to bring in empty bottles so that they can fill them with the hand sanitizer.

Here is a list of distilleries currently producing hand sanitizer:

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