GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As finding rolls of toilet paper becomes more like trying to find a diamond in the rough, it’s easy to blame the tissue shortage on hoarding or stocking up but wholesale suppliers say there is a lot more to it.
Rich Hebert is the CEO of Clean It Supply, a wholesaler for cleaning supplies. Hebert said tissue manufacturers have a priority hierarchy – Federal Emergency Management Agency and medical companies are at the top, with big box stores somewhere in the middle.
“Aside from consumers trying to stock up, the government and first responders are definitely taking far more than they were before,” Hebert said.
He said the U.S. relied on China and India for about 10% of its tissue supplies prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.
China stopped producing it as the country deals with the impact of the outbreak, which put a strain on the U.S. supply.
Americans aren’t going to the bathroom more than they used to, but the location likely has changed. On average, a person uses the restroom five times each day, and two or three of those times used to be at work or school. That’s as many as 15 times each week, which for a family of four, would be 60 more flushes at home each week.
Hebert has seen the impact in his company’s sales.
“Prior to this crisis, 80% of our sales were to businesses and 20% were to consumers, but in the last three weeks, that his flipped. We are now 80% to consumers and 20% to businesses,” he said.
Herbert added that he thinks the strain on the supply will last at least another three months.