Expected toilet paper price hike sparks panic buying in Taiwan
TAIPEI: Announcements by authorities and local companies that the prices of toilet paper would go up have sparked panic buying in Taiwan, according to local reports.
Taiwan News reported on Monday (Feb 26) that the expected hike in prices is due to a drastic rise in global prices.
Due to production disruptions in Brazil and forest fires in Canada, the global cost of short fiber pulp, which is used to produce toilet paper, has risen from US$650 per ton on average to US$800 as of February, Taiwan News quoted the Ministry of Economic Affairs as saying.
Companies in the industry confirmed last Friday that the price hikes - as high as 30 per cent - would take place in mid-March, according to Eye on Taiwan.
Stocks at local businesses, ranging from supermarkets to hypermarkets, were quickly depleted and those who were unable to buy the products at physical stores quickly to ok to online shopping platforms, where they reportedly ordered more than five million packs, Eye on Taiwan added.
Video of people stuffing their cars with boxes of toilet paper has also emerged.
Taiwanese consumers posted images of the empty shelves on social media, with one commenting: "For the first time, I can't even buy two packs of toilet paper. Is the world sick?"
Another said: "No more words, I'm going to hunt for tree bark or tomorrow I'll have a smelly bum."
Taiwan's Department of Consumer Protection urged the public on Monday to stay calm, saying that the island's four major retailers have promised not to raise toilet paper prices until mid-March or hoard the merchandise to sell later at higher prices, according to Taipei Times.
However, another sort of business may be trying to take advantage of the frenzy - claw vending machine operators.
Facebook group Baifei Commune posted a photo of an arcade claw machine stocked with 10 packages of a branded toilet paper product, with a sign reading: "Guaranteed success for NT$20 (US$0.70)."
Others on social media soon followed up with other claw machines similarly offering deals on toilet paper.
"No wonder there isn't any toilet paper left, they're all in the claw machines," one person reportedly commented.