Britain’s coronavirus outbreak has seen a “large spike in demand” for toilet paper, the UK’s largest supplier has told Sky News.
It is further evidence that householders are stockpiling as the infection continues to spread.
However, paper manufacturer WEPA UK says it has so far met all its orders and was “geared up” to meet the higher volumes.
It follows a surge in hand sanitiser sales that has led to shortages and the introduction of rationing.
In response to panic-buying of store cupboard essentials in some areas, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said the government is working with supermarkets to ensure food supplies.
Latest figures show there have been 163 cases of COVID-19 in the UK, with the biggest daily jump in patients on Friday.
Meanwhile, a second person in the UK with the virus has died, Sky News understands.
Mike Docker, managing director of WEPA UK, said: “The ongoing coronavirus situation means we have seen a large spike in demand over the last week and sales continue to be very strong.
“Our excellent supply chain team has met all our sales orders so far and our manufacturing is geared up to meet these higher volumes.
“We are continually monitoring the situation very carefully and are studying sales patterns of the experiences our colleagues had in Italy a number of weeks ago to anticipate how this will develop.”
He added: “Our careful planning helps us to respond to any spike in demand for our products. So, while the current situation around coronavirus is highly unusual, we are well equipped to deal with it.
“When there is a spike in demand from consumers for a product, we work closely with our retail partners and distribution network to manage it effectively.
“This can involve calling on our logistics teams to mobilise more transport in order to get products where they need to be, quickly and efficiently.
“At WEPA UK, we have close links with our retailers, which enable us to monitor consumer demand in real-time. We receive daily updates on how products are selling and broader consumer habits. Using this data, we work jointly with them to forecast when to dial up or down production.”
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Meanwhile, Downing Street has said the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) had regular meetings with the food industry to discuss risks to the supply chain, with a working group due to meet on Friday.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, has said the group was “working constructively with government officials to ensure that supermarkets remain stocked and supply chains continue to function as normal for the foreseeable future”.
She added: “While coronavirus has increased the demand of certain products in the short term, we are confident that any disruption will remain limited, and consumers will continue to be able to choose from a wide selection of foods and other products in stores across the country.”
A spokesman for the Food and Drink Federation said: “The FDF is in regular dialogue with the government and its agencies on how the food and drink industry should react to the spread of COVID-19.”
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