Just when you thought you were in the clear to stock up on toilet paper again, wood pulp, the primary raw material used to make it, is getting more expensive.
“We’ve never seen monthly price increases like this in the history of the business,” said Brian McClay, a pulp industry analyst. “It’s unheard of.”
Prices for market pulp have jumped from $606 per metric ton in September to more than $907 per metric ton in April, McClay said.
A combination of factors has driven prices higher, including a post-Covid recovery in China, the biggest buyer of pulp in the world, and global shipping delays, he said.
Consumer manufacturers purchase pulp on the open market and then use it to make toilet paper and other tissue products. Around 70% of the pulp that US consumer manufacturers buy for toilet paper comes from Brazil, McClay said, followed by around 30% from Canada.
Pulp is just the latest example of a raw-material shortage hitting the US economy as it recovers from shutdowns that disrupted supply chains and altered consumer behavior. Lumber, steel, computer chips, chlorine, and even human labor is hard to find.
Consumer Brands Association, the trade group for consumer packaged goods’ manufacturers, said Thursday in a blog post that rising wood pulp prices are having an impact on toilet paper production costs.
Toilet paper prices for consumers have increased during the pandemic, and one leading toilet paper manufacturer said it’s raising the prices it charges retailers for Scott in part because of higher pulp costs.
Toilet paper prices increased 15.6% during the 52 weeks ending May 1 compared to the year prior, according to the latest numbers from NielsenIQ, which tracks point of sale data from retailers.
Kimberly Clark (KMB), the maker of Scott toilet paper, plans to increase prices to retailers on Scott and its other brands by mid-to-high single-digit percentages next month. The increases “are necessary to help offset significant commodity cost inflation,” Kimberly-Clark said.
“Selling prices of tissue products are influenced, in part, by the market price for pulp,” the company said in its latest securities’ filing.