Is There Enough Toilet Paper?

Is There Enough Toilet Paper?


The population of the Soviet Union would often experience a shortage of toilet paper. Today, Russia produces a great variety of toilet papers, from 1 to 4 ply tissues, and even with different flavors.

Toilet paper was first patented in the U.S. and England by James Olcock and Joseph Gayetty in 1857. Back then, it was sold in the U.S. in packs of one thousand sheets. The Soviet Union initially produced it in sheets, too. The production of TP rolls was launched in 1969.

Some people were lucky to return home from the stores with rolls of toilet paper worn like a garland round their neck. At first, many looked at these children of fortune with envy, imagining what a happy future awaited them. Later on, as the market was flooded with these products, people stopped paying attention to them.

However, there is a fair chance nowadays to see people wearing such “decorations” again. Are we going to consider them lucky and stare in envy and sadness at them as in those times?

It might sound odd, but judging by some signs, a toilet paper shortage is looming over the world and Russia. One problem is pretty obvious and has its origin in South America. The fact is that Brazil is one of the world's top suppliers of pulp for the production of toilet paper.

Many would probably think that it's all about logistics, because it is expensive to import goods from Brazil. This is only partially true. The main problem is not the long distances separating the producer from the consumer, but the COVID-19 pandemic.

The novel coronavirus idled several pulp factories in this South American country bringing the world a step closer to toilet paper shortage which might also affect Russia. However, that is just the tip of the iceberg. The TP crisis is mainly caused by a stronger ocean freight demand and a shortage of shipping containers, and now it might affect cargoes delivered by sea in other types of packaging such as sacks, barrels, crates, etc.

A forest-rich Russia currently has 33 enterprises producing toilet paper. As found out, they have no problems with the supply of pulp related to the global demand for containers. Moreover, no shortage of toilet paper is expected.

According to statistics, in 2019, the production of toilet paper in Russia increased by 9.1% (to 4,891 mln rolls), while imports remained unchanged at 35,000 tonnes. Exports grew from 56,000 to 63,000 tonnes (+12%.) As for exports, in 2018-2019, Russia sent no shipments of toilet paper to the United States. However, in 2020, at the height of the pandemic, Russia supplied 15.7 tonnes of these hygiene products to the U.S. for $62,800. That is, about 157,000 rolls.

Of course, every country decides for itself how much it must stock or how to act on new rumors of a possible toilet paper shortage.

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