Workers at a toilet paper plant are working around the clock to meet panic-led demand – as Woolies clamps down on bulk buying.
Workers at a toilet paper plant are working around the clock to meet panic-led demand – as Woolies clamps down on bulk buying.

The SA factory saving our butts from virus panic

Amid calls for calm and a clampdown by supermarket giant Woolworths on the coronavirus-led panic buying of toilet paper, Kimberly-Clark's Millicent plant employees are working around the clock to meet demand.

The plant in the state's South-East makes the Kleenex brand of toilet paper, tissues and Viva paper towels for the Australian and NZ markets.

"Our production lines are working 24/7 to address the increased, short-term demand," a company spokeswoman told The Advertiser.

"They have always had the capacity to operate 24/7, but there is not always a need to work to full capacity.

A Millicent factory worker shows just how much toilet paper is left at the mill.
A Millicent factory worker shows just how much toilet paper is left at the mill.

"We're also working closely with our customers to replenish supermarket shelves faster."

As SA recorded its fourth confirmed coronavirus case, Kleenex took to social media on Wednesday afternoon, posting an image from the Millicent factory showing thousands of packages of toilet paper and urging Australians not to panic.

"Australia, don't panic! We are working around the clock at our mill in South Australia to keep the supermarket shelves stocked with Kleenex Complete Clean toilet paper," their post said.

"As you can see we won't be running out anytime soon."

The Millicent plant employs 350 people and is flexible to demand ebbs and falls.

A bad flu season usually sees demand for Kleenex tissues rising.

Treasurer Rob Lucas said he was "delighted" that Kimberly-Clark was working flat out.

"There should be more than enough toilet paper to go around," he said, but cautioned shoppers should exercise moderation.

Solaris Paper, which owns the Sorbent brand, warned the nation's supplies could be threatened due to panic buying.

"While Sorbent Paper is working to build and manage demand, its ability to maintain ample supply of its tissue products of toilet paper, facial tissues, paper towel and wipes to its retail customers will be dependent on retail offtake volumes,'' Solaris said in a statement supplied to The Australian.

There is plenty of toilet paper to go around at Kimberly-Clark Australia’s Millicent mill.
There is plenty of toilet paper to go around at Kimberly-Clark Australia’s Millicent mill.

Retail giant Woolworths on Wednesday said it will limit customers to four packs of toilet paper per transaction after supermarket shelves were stripped in recent days.

"Woolworths has today moved to apply a quantity limit on toilet paper packs to ensure more customers have access to these products," the company said in a statement.

"The purchase limit of four packs per customer transaction applies in-store and

online."

National charity Foodbank is also bracing for more families needing assistance with food, and is in the early stages of increasing stock.

"What we expect is if things escalate to the point where businesses close and people aren't being paid, people will be look for support from charities for food," Foodbank chief operating officer John Robertson said.

"We're preparing should that occur."

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison urged Australians to stay calm.

Of 10,000 people across the country to have been tested for the virus, there are 38 confirmed cases, with 21 now cleared.

Australia's chief medical officer Brendan Murphy said most of the cases in Australia were in people who had come from other affected countries and there was only "limited community transmission".

"We are trying to reassure people that removing all of the lavatory paper from the shelves of supermarkets probably isn't a proportionate or sensible thing to do at this time," he told a Senate hearing on Wednesday.

"We are a well-prepared health system but even the best-prepared health systems can face a challenge if you have large outbreaks."

Mr Morrison is expected to announce an economic stimulus package within days, as the virus wreaks havoc on Australian trade, supply chains and businesses.

With AAP

 


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