Here’s when toilet paper will return to Utah stores — and what you can do to help keep it in stock

(Rick Bowmer | The Associated Press) Floyd Soren wears a mask against COVID-19 as he displays the toilet paper he purchased at a grocery store Tuesday, March 17, 2020, in Salt Lake City.

There’s been a lot of talk about toilet paper — or the lack of it —lately.

But bathroom tissue is never far from reach in Utah.

The Beehive State is home to one of the largest toilet paper manufacturers west of the Mississippi, said Todd Bingham, president of the Utah Manufacturers Association.

Operated by Procter & Gamble and located in Bear River City, it produces and distributes Charmin toilet paper, baby care products and Bounty paper towels.

The 9-year-old plant has 360 employees and announced in January that it planned to expand its Box Elder County operations, creating another 200 jobs over the next 20 years.

Which is a good thing, the way people have been panic-buying during the COVID-19 epidemic.

“The best thing the public can do is…purchase what they need and don’t panic-buy,” Bingham said, “and don’t hoard because that’s what creates the vacancy on the shelf.”.

That’s also the reason why consumers still can’t find it on the shelves, Bingham said. "There is a significant amount of toilet paper and hygiene products being made right now. The supply chains are running at full speed.

“Demand continues to outpace supply, but we are working diligently to get products to our retailers as fast as humanly possible,” said Bingham, noting that manufacturers are prioritizing their bestselling sizes to maximize the amount they can ship to retailers.

Manufacturing, specifically of food and hygiene products, has also been deemed critical by the government and will continue to operate round-the-clock.

It takes one to two days to make the toilet paper and have it arrive in stores, he said.

The Utah Food Industry Association also said there are no issues with the supply chain delivering to stores high-demand items like toilet paper, paper towels and disinfectant wipes.

“We don’t anticipate any sort of significant shortages for the long term,” said association President Dave Davis. “We just need consumers to shop responsibly.”

He said Utah’s supply chain is recovering from the stockpiling and panic-buying that happened a few weeks ago.

“There’s plenty of food out there. There’s plenty of cleaning supplies out there,” he said. “It’s just a matter of allowing the supply chain to begin to catch up with this massive increase in consumer purchasing.”

Davis isn’t sure how long it will take to catch up, but people are still buying higher volumes, which is unnecessary. “If you need the item in the next week and a half to two weeks, go ahead and buy it,” he said. “If you aren’t going to use it in the next week and a half to two weeks, then leave it for someone who needs the item.”.

Davis also had a message for people who are reselling high-demand products for a profit: “Knock it off. It is against the law for people to do that and to price gouge consumers at this time of critical need.".

Grocery stores are seeing product supplies improve and are encouraging shoppers to be flexible over the next few weeks with the brands they purchase.

Associated Food Stores — which includes Macey’s, Dan’s and Dick’s — temporarily limited the number of high-demand items people could buy, communications manager Sarah Pettit said. This restriction kept in-demand items on store shelves for longer.

As the supply has returned, she said, the stores have lifted some of those limits.

Deliveries are also coming every day to Harmons Grocery stores, said spokesperson Stephanie Miller.

The stores are still limiting quantities of toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Customers are directed to either the business center or pharmacy to pick up those products.

Limiting quantities of those products, Miller said, has allowed the store to keep them on the shelves.