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Predicted rising price of toilet paper prompts shopping frenzy

Photo courtesy of the Department of Consumer Protection, showing a department official checking one of the major hypermarkets in Taiwan over the toilet paper supply condition.

By Stephanie Chao, the Eye on Taiwan staff writer

Taiwan’s consumers are stocking up on paper-related staple goods, such as toilet paper, paper towels and napkins amid reports of upcoming price hikes due to international pulp price rises, local media reported on Monday.

Local media reports said the toilet tissue price would likely see a sharp rise, with the retail price going up as high as 30 percent, prompting consumers to scramble for the products in panic and clean out shelves at local supermarkets over the weekend.

The frenzy came after companies in the industry confirmed last Friday the price hikes would take place in mid-March. Stocks at local businesses, ranging from supermarkets to hypermarkets, were quickly depleted.

Those who found no more toilet tissue, paper towels and the like left at those outlets quickly took to online shopping platforms, where they reportedly ordered more than 5 million packs.

Angry consumers who were one-step too late lashed out at the panic-buying through social media and complained about the “outrageousness” of the situation, local media Apple Daily reported.

Taiwan’s Department of Consumer Protection Monday appealed the public for calm, saying the four major hypermarkets in Taiwan still have an adequate supply of toilet paper and that the product’s price would not be adjusted upward until mid-March.

Retailers found colluding together to raise prices would be fined up to NT$50 million, it warned.

But local academics have warned against the probability of price increases in other pulp-related goods as well, including wet wipes, printing paper and wood for interior design.

David Wang, vice dean and distinguished professor at National Chung Hsing University’s Forestry Department Monday pointed out that due to Taiwan’s inability to be self-sufficient, in terms of wood resources, and heavy reliance on imported goods, consumer prices will be heavily affected by external factors.

He predicted that domestic prices of related consumer goods will also be affected by rising pulp prices abroad, due to the government’s long-time negligence of the forestry industry.

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