Photos that prove you don’t need to panic buy toilet paper
The weekly demand for groceries has climbed to overtake the busiest week of the year - Christmas - as every freight truck in the country is working around the clock to deliver goods.
Giant freight operator Linfox said they would normally transport 2.2 million cartons in a seven-day period at Christmas to Coles supermarkets alone but they are now delivering up to 3 million cartons amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Linfox Logistics Australia chief executive officer Mark Mazurek said the demand was unprecedented - some trucks had even resorted to bypassing distribution centres and delivering goods direct to supermarkets including Coles and Woolworths.
"It's much bigger than what we've had at Christmas and this is three weeks in a row now," he said.
"It's bigger than Christmas that we had six months to plan for."
In one of Coles's major distribution centres at Truganina in Melbourne's west, Mr Mazurek said they normally have 6000 pallets go in and out each day and "it hasn't stopped".
Linfox said their 1500 fleet across the country is running to full capacity to get essentials items flowing to Australians.
He said with less traffic on the road as many people worked from home it "helps a lot and when people give consideration to drivers".
Among the many items in hot demand included rows of pallets stocked with toilet paper ready for loading to hit the roads and then be stocked onto supermarket shelves.
Coles chief operating officer Matt Swindells reinforced Prime Minister Scott Morrison's message on Wednesday to "stop hoarding".
"Australians should stop hoarding, there is not a shortage of product," he said.
"It's excessive demand way beyond normal demand, we have done three Christmases back to back in a space of three weeks.
"That is not sustainable."
He said "the sooner people buy normally the sooner the supermarket will look normal".
"You may not get the exact products that you want, the brand or the pack size, but if the volumes come back to normal we can restock the supermarkets faster and that will help everyone settle down," Mr Swindells said.
Coles has also been forced to set up new distribution centres across the country in the past week to cope with the surge in demand.
"In addition to that we are running high-queue products direct from suppliers, we are not even coming to DC we are going straight to the shops, we've never done that before, " Mr Swindells said.
"Every single part of the supply chain is maxed."
Linfox forklift driver Joseph Camilleri said "there's more than enough toilet paper for Australia".
"We are trying to get it out as fast as we can," he said.
"We have plenty of stock for Australia."
Sorbent Paper chief executive officer Paul Tonkin they have had "enormous strain" on their production at their factory at Box Hill in Melbourne's east.
"Our retail partners are working very closely with Sorbent to get product to shelf daily with retailers demonstrating creativity and agility to quickly adjust their processes to better meet demand," he said.
"Reality is if we can get a sense of calm back into the general buying habits then more Australians will get what they need and on a fairer basis."
PZ Cussons produces items including Morning Fresh dishwashing liquid, Radiant laundry products, soap, yoghurt and baby food.
Their managing director Rob Spence said their goods are produced both domestically and internationally and he had seen "a significant increase across the board" particularly with sales of dishwashing liquid, laundry liquid and baby food.
"We are seeing at least double to triple the sales we would see on dishwashing liquid while laundry and baby products have increased by 50 to 60 per cent," he said.
"The key challenge currently is getting the product from our distribution centres into customer stores and ultimately customers' hands."
"We are adequately prepared for this so the challenge is getting the product from us into customer stores."
Woolworths' chief executive officer Brad Banducci said "we have a surge and demand" issue.
"We have two to three times the demand for normal products coming through and in that context it's virtually impossible for any of us to keep up with it," he said.
"What then happens it puts a lot of pressure on our supply chain and we end up prioritising in order to get toilet paper for example of other higher demand products in the shop.
"If all of our customers collectively across all retailers in Australia bought what they needed plus a little bit more we would have everything in stock that they need."
Woolworths also on Thursday suspended normal delivery operations and added fresh milk to its limit list of two items per customer.
Originally published as Photos that prove you don't need to panic buy toilet paper