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Taiwanese shoppers are panic-buying toilet paper

Pulp shortage is driving prices 50 percent higher, triggering a #TPapocalypse

by David Gilbert
Feb 26 2018, 1:37pm

Production problems in Brazil and forest fires in Canada are causing a “toilet paper apocalypse” in Taiwan.

People in Taiwan spent the weekend panic-buying toilet paper, stockingpiling ahead of a predicted price rise that could see shops charge up to 50 percent more.

Many shops saw their shelves emptied of toilet paper, leading to more panic buying by people worried stock would run out completely.

According to Taiwan’s home shopping channel, ET Mall, six of its 20 top-selling items were toilet paper — and demand was 10 times higher than usual.

The Department of Consumer Protection has sought to calm fears of a crisis by saying supermarkets will be able to restock their shelves.

The problem is rooted in the cost of short-fiber pulp, which is used in the production of toilet paper. According to Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs, the price has risen from an average of $650 per ton to over $800 as of February — the result of production problems in Brazil and forest fires in Canada.

YFY Inc., one of Taiwan’s largest toilet paper suppliers, said that the rise in the price of pulp has caused costs to increase by more than 50 percent since mid-2017.

In n effort to stop panic buying of toilet paper, the Department of Consumer Protection said Sunday that it had received assurances from the country's four major retailers that prices would not rise until mid-March.

One enterprising business person has even stocked a claw machine with bundles of toilet paper, guaranteeing success for NT$20 ($0.68).

Cover image: Taiwan's Consumer Protection Department shared this image to urge consumers not to panic. (Credit: Taiwan Central News Agency)