There is no shortage of toilet paper, according to the Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa, who say they will continue working during the 21-day lockdown period which started on Friday.

The message followed a period of panic buying after the announcement of a national lockdown, with consumers attempting to buy various kinds of essentials in bulk. Toilet paper was a key item bought in large quantities.

In countries abroad, toilet paper shortages triggered by panic buying sparked a number of online memes.

But PAMSA says South Africans need not panic. 

“Any perceived shortage of toilet paper in the shops is more a consumer behavioural issue than it is a production issue,” the association said in a statement, warning that there is “no scarcity of toilet paper”.

Government last week announced new regulations to prevent price gouging during the coronavirus pandemic, and toilet paper was among the goods that retailers are not allowed to sell by more than the increases in the cost to produce them. 

“There is availability of product further up the supply chain. The challenge is getting it to the consumer amid tissue manufacturers also trying to limit Covid-19 exposure for their own workers,”  said Jane Molony, PAMSA executive director.

“Never before has toilet paper enjoyed such publicity,” she said.

Tissue paper is mostly produced locally, and manufacturers have ramped up production to meet increased demand.

The national lockdown period announce by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday would end on April 16.

The National Consumer Commission has announced that it is investigating 30 cases of so-called price gouging on price-controlled essentials such as hand sanitisers, masks and toilet paper during the coronavirus outbreak.

According to PAMSA, 248 153 tonnes of tissue, including facial, industrial and kitchen towelling, were produced locally during 2019. 

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