Are supply chains a challenge to manage?  You bet, whether in normal times or not.  Even household staples like toilet paper can be a challenge on the supply side.

Toilet paper (tp) sales have increased over the last month to pandemic-level highs.  The increase came after preceding quarters, which saw paper product sales drop to below pre-pandemic levels.  How do paper product supply chains handle such wild swings in demand?

Consider this…

U.S factories, from companies such as Proctor & Gamble, Georgia-Pacific and Kimberly-Clark, churn out more than seven-billion pounds of tp every year.  Sales initially spiked 845% at the onset of the pandemic; that’s not a misprint!  In the two months from 3/2/20-5/2/20, sales rose 71% year-over-year, ranking tp as one of the most purchased items at stores nationwide, and making it a challenge to find, even on the e-commerce sites of retail giants such as, Walmart, Target and Amazon.

Let’s dig a little deeper into the numbers…

While shortages arose due to pandemic related buying habits, there was also a supply issue based on the type of paper being used.  As lockdowns spread, demand for commercial-type large rolls used in office buildings, schools and work sites decreased, while corresponding demand for at home regular-style rolls substantially increased.  The simple solution- just switch the factories that produce larger rolls to instead produce smaller rolls.  The problem- with different input paper types, roll sizes, packaging, and process configurations, it is not easy to convert machines that produce commercial rolls into a process that produces household rolls.

While sales are currently rising, paper producers have reworked production and distribution capacity to help meet demand.  Will there be some shortages?  Perhaps.  While the supply chain may still be under stress, it is also more resilient than ever.

Enjoy this article and let me know what you think!

~ Brian Kasal- The Leadership Matrix

Click here- Americans Are Stocking Up on Toilet Paper Again

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