A woman drives a forklift inside a warehouse filled with toilet paper

On a roll: Australian-made toilet paper, tissues safe on shelves as supply chain disruptions wreak havoc

Global supply chain disruptions are helping to increase demand for Australian-made toilet paper and tissue products, according to one of the country’s largest manufacturers.

Kimberly-Clark Australia has reported an increase in demand of about 10 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Adam Carpenter, factory manager at the company’s Millicent, South Australia facility, said the availability of raw materials played an important role in the demand for their products.

“We, a local manufacturer in Australia, have been able to supply products while other suppliers may have imported products, so they have been hit harder by the global supply chain issues,” said Mr Carpenter.

He said the company had been looking for ways to better ensure security of supply since 2020.

Adam Carpenter says the supply disruptions “ultimately affect the product on the shelves”.ABC South East SA: Bec Whetham

He said both domestic and international issues have contributed to the challenges in the supply chain.

“We have also been challenged with road transport, so with trucks and the availability of trucks,” he said.

“The availability of pallets, which was a bit of an issue over the Christmas period and early this year, has definitely impacted us and others.

“That ultimately has consequences for the product on the shelves.”

panic buying peak

Mr. Carpenter said 2022 has been “a very busy year so far”.

“Demand has been particularly strong,” he said.

†[Demand] is not as extreme as in 2020, when those panic buying did start.

Evidence of panic buying in a supermarket in Port Pirie
Mr Carpenter says Kimberly-Clark Australia has “just emptied out its warehouses pretty well” at the start of the pandemic to meet demand.Supplied: Shari Hams

“It was quite unusual in that we have pretty much emptied our warehouses in an effort to keep the product on the shelves.

Mr Carpenter said that “demand is likely to have increased by about 10 percent” from pre-2020.

“Twenty-twenty was really a highlight in a fairly short period of time.

“It was very concentrated over a period of six to eight weeks.

Factory roofs, trees and a parking lot from a bird's eye view
The Millicent plant manager says continued strong demand is 10 percent above pre-pandemic levels.ABC South East SA: Bec Whetham

“This year we’ve seen more sustained demand so far, which amounts to probably 10 percent above what we normally see.

“We ship in the order of 15,000 pallets a week from the Southeast [of South Australia]so it’s very busy.”

Call for more domestic capacity

Mr Carpenter’s words were echoed by the manufacturing union.

The national production secretary at the CFMMEU, Michael O’Connor, said there were a “whole range of issues” affecting the industry, including the behavior of

A man stands in the background watching packs of toilet paper move along a conveyor belt in a factory
The CFMMEU says Australia needs to reduce its dependence on other countries for raw materials and finished products.ABC South East SA: Grace Whiteside

“The problem of supply chain disruption – whether it is due to the behavior of the Chinese government, whether it is a shortage of ships or a shortage of sea containers, it is due to a whole host of problems” , he said.

“I think all the supply chain disruptions caused by COVID, geopolitical events, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, etc., continue to reinforce the need for this country to be as self-sufficient as possible.

“We should be making and producing more of that here,” said Mr. O’Connor.

He said it was vital for Australia to become more self-sufficient.

Michael O'Connor CFMEU National Secretary
Michael O’Connor says the union is hopeful the new federal government will help solve some of the production shortages.ABC

“We want to make sure we can be much more robust, much more self-sufficient, and there is a way to do that.

“Whether it’s paper products, tissue products, packaging, wood, people can’t get their homes built on time.

“People can’t get their homes renovated. People can’t get enough packaging material because of the disruption of the supply chain.

“We need to address those issues.”

Mr O’Connor said the sector was hopeful that a new federal Labor government would help solve some of the problems.

“Australia needs more pulp capacity… we should be producing more pulp, which of course can support our paper machines across Australia.

“We hope that this administration will do more to address the timber industry shortage, more to see the expansion of our forest area, and also has made a multimillion-dollar commitment to try to increase the availability of training to help our workforce. in this industry.”

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