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Virus brings Mexican toilet paper to the United States

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NEW YORK (AP) Toilet paper is back on store shelves. But you might not recognize some of the brands.

Demand for toilet paper has been so high during the pandemic that to keep their shelves well stocked, retailers are buying toilet paper brands from abroad, mostly from Mexico. Major chains across the country including CVS, Piggly Wiggly, Safeway, 7-Eleven and others carry the international brands.

In recent weeks, a CVS in New York has been selling three Mexican brands: Regio, Hoteles Elite and Daisy Soft. Mexicos Petalo was on the shelves of a Piggly Wiggly in Sister Bay, Wisconsin. And a Safeway supermarket in Fremont, Calif., Had these same brands, plus Vogue, whose label says in Spanish that it smells like chamomile.

Stores said they need to get creative during the pandemic and have started working with new suppliers to give shoppers what they need. But don’t worry about popular American brands like Charmin, they’re not going to go away. Supply chain experts expect Mexican rolls and other foreign-made products to be on store shelves only temporarily, until U.S. manufacturers catch up with demand.

Americans use much more toilet paper than other countries, says Patrick Penfield, professor of supply chain at the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University, which is why Mexico can handle sending more rolls in the USA. Stores have done so with other products during the pandemic, he said, bringing hand sanitizer made in Mexico to the United States in times of shortage.

Americans, of course, buy products that are made all over the world, but most of the toilet paper they use is made in the U.S. Toilet paper is inexpensive and takes up a lot of space in trucks and ships, which is not worth the cost. import from other countries. It left the toilet paper aisle with the same familiar brands, causing some shoppers to do a double take when they see unfamiliar things.

Oliver Olsen wasn’t even in the toilet paper market, but he had to stop and take a closer look at what he saw in the aisles last month at a Hannaford supermarket in Londonderry, Vermont.

Instead of Charmin and Cottonelle, there was Vogue and Delsey from Mexico. Next to them were rolls of cashmere from Canada and King Blue from Trinidad and Tobago.

It really jumped out at me, said Olsen, who works in the software industry and is a former state official. I didn’t know any of this.

Ericka Dodge, a spokesperson for Hannaford, a chain owned by supermarket operator Ahold Delhaize, said the grocer had been working with new suppliers to get toilet paper off the shelves faster.

Some American manufacturers have also stopped making the many varieties of toilet paper they usually make, such as stronger or aloe infused leaves, so they can focus on the basics and get them through faster. But Dodge said these varieties are starting to return to retail shelves.

Penfield, the professor at Syracuse University, expects US manufacturers to struggle to keep up with demand over the next three to five months.

Part of the reason: people do more of their bathroom business at home than at work or school. Bathroom tissue sales are up 22% so far this year, according to research firm Nielsen.

The companies that make Mexican toilet paper were surprised that their rolls were spotted north of the border.

It’s unexpected to find it at U.S. retailers, said Amy Bellcourt, spokesperson for Essity, a Swiss fabric company that manufactures Regio in Mexico.

Petalo, Vogue, and Delsey are made in Mexico by Kimberly-Clark, the same company that makes Cottonelle and Scott. But Kimberly-Clark said he had no role in importing his Mexican brands into the United States.

Selling unknown brands of toilet paper in a pandemic is not difficult, although they are not as fluffy as Charmin or Cottonelle.

American consumers, in times of plenty, are very picky, said Erika Marsillac, associate professor of supply chain management at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. If the shelves are low or empty, you’ll grab whatever you can grab.

Some have no choice.

Jennifer Jackson ordered Aloe Infused Cottonelle from Texan supermarket chain HEB’s website, but it was out of stock and she realized it had been traded for Vogue when she picked up her order. at the store.

She thought the flowery scent was kind of fun, but it lacked a bit of weight.

Vogue is so thin it sort of crumbles, said Jackson, an attorney in Austin, Texas. And that’s a risky situation in the bathroom.

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Follow Joseph Pisani on http://twitter.com/josephpisani

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.



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