Toilet paper is not in scarce supply: 5 facts

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Toilet paper is not in short supply in Australia, and it will not be in short supply at any time. There are no grounds for panic buying.

IndustryEdge has 25 years experience analysing paper product markets, including for toilet paper. The following facts are drawn from our extensive experience and published analysis.

ONE: Each Australia consumed an average 12.5 kg of all tissue products in 2018-19

This includes toilet paper, but also facial tissue and hand towel and napkins and so on.

It includes what we use at home, but also what we use when  at school or work, in hospitals or at cafes.

To make this real when thinking about the images we have sen in Australian supermarkets, a trolley load of 50 kg of toilet paper is likely to last a family of four something like two years!


TWO: Local manufacturers dominate supermarket shelves – and have increased production

Whether it is their own brands or supermarket brands, local manufacturing dominates the toilet paper on Australia’s supermarket shelves. IndustryEdge estimates local supply is greater than 85% across all retail outlets.

Even more important, for the last few years, the local manufacturers have only been using 82% of their capacity. All have increased production in recent weeks, not because of any particular shortage, but to help  fill the shelves quickly, as they respond to panic buying.

THREE: Local manufacturers produce two-thirds of Australia’s tissue products

Australia’s local manufacturers – ABC Tissue, Encore Tissue, Kimberly-Clark Australia and Solaris Paper/The Sorbent Paper Company – produce almost exactly two-thirds of Australia’s tissue products. The remainder is imported, either as very large rolls (converted or cut down to consumer size locally) or fully converted.

In 2018-19, the Australian companies produced 210,000 tonnes of tissue paper. That can rise to around 260,000 tonnes per year.

Imported tissue paper for converting in Australia to finished products, makes up around one-third of the total, with about twenty-five countries providing that supply each year.

FOUR: Imports have a larger role in the B2B market

IndustryEdge’s ongoing analysis shows that the local manufacturers dominate the supply of toilet paper sold in retail outlets like supermarkets. Imports have a stronger role supplying the tissue product needs of the business-to-business market, including cafes and restaurants and supplies to hospitals, schools, offices and industrial users.

FIVE: Imported pulp to make tissue products comes from a wide range of countries

Australian tissue manufacturers mainly import the wood pulp used to make toilet paper. in 2018-19, pulp imports came from a wide range of countries, dominated by Brazil, South Africa and New Zealand.

There has been no disruption to pulp imports. None is expected.

Australian Pulp Imports by Country: 2009 – 2019 (ktpa)

Source: ABS

The events of early March 2020 that have seen store-level shortages of toilet paper are difficult to understand in a country that experiences few shortages of anything. 

There is plenty of toilet paper for everyone!


IndustryEdge will provide detailed analysis for subscribers in the March 2020 edition of Pulp & Paper Edge

Image sources: IndustryEdge

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