The coronavirus pandemic-fueled run on toilet paper is over — thanks in part to Mexico.
According to the Associated Press, retailers are buying up foreign toilet paper brands, mostly from south of the border — including the chains CVS, Piggly Wiggly, Safeway, and 7-Eleven.
Americans use much more toilet paper than other countries, according to Patrick Penfield, a supply chain professor at the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University — which is why Mexico can handle shipping more rolls to the United States, the AP reported.
Stores have done this with other products during the pandemic, he told the news wire, even bringing Mexican-made hand sanitizer to the United States when there was a shortage in the early days of the COVID-19 crisis.
Some U.S. manufacturers also stopped making the many varieties of toilet paper they usually make, like sheets that are stronger or infused with aloe, so they could focus on the basics and get it to stores quicker, though they are starting to return to retailers’ shelves, the AP reported.
The companies that make the Mexican toilet paper were surprised their rolls were spotted north of the border.
“It’s unexpected that it would be found in any U.S. retailers,” Amy Bellcourt, a spokeswoman for Essity, a Swedish tissue company that makes Regio in Mexico, told the AP.
Petalo, Vogue and Delsey are made in Mexico by Kimberly-Clark, the same company that makes Cottonelle and Scott. But Kimberly-Clark said it had no role in importing its Mexican brands to the U.S.
“American consumers, in times of plenty, are very picky,” Erika Marsillac, an associate professor of supply chain management at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, told the AP. “If the shelves are running low or empty, you’ll grab whatever you can grab.”