The Daily Telegraph

Rip-off: lavatory roll shorter and costs more

Sheets are reduced and pricier as energy crisis sees paper mills struggle to control production costs

- By Eir Nolsøe and Laura Onita

Lavatory paper is getting shorter – and costlier – as surging energy costs have sparked a 15 per cent jump in the price of a roll. The typical length of each one has been shortened by 8 per cent. The price increase, revealed in analysis for

The Daily Telegraph by Trolley.co.uk, a shopping comparison website, is among the sharpest inflation for any goods in a typical weekly shop. The phenomenon has become global; in the United States, a Charmin 18-pack now has 244 two-ply sheets per roll, down from 264.

DURING the pandemic it became an emblem of the panic-buying that swept Britain. Now lavatory paper is the canary in the coal mine for the cost-ofliving crisis.

Not only is it shorter, with fewer sheets, but it’s more expensive as well.

Surging energy costs have resulted in a 15 per cent jump in the price of a roll, but the typical length of each one has been shortened by 8 per cent.

The price increase, revealed in analysis for The Daily Telegraph by Trolley.co.uk, a shopping comparison website, is among the biggest for any goods in the typical weekly shop.

The figures are based on a survey of different brands and package sizes.

Ocado imposed the biggest average price rise of 23 per cent, the equivalent of £1.24. Iceland increased lavatory paper prices by an average of 21 per cent, or £1.07.

Aldi posted the lowest increase, just 3.4 per cent. Rival discounter Lidl is not included in the data.

The typical roll is also between 6 per cent and 8 per cent shorter than it was a year ago.

The phenomenon has become global; in the US, a Charmin 18-pack now contains 244 two-ply sheets per roll, down from 264.

The average UK supermarke­t price increase of 15 per cent makes lavatory paper the fastest-rising non-food item except for kitchen roll, which is exposed to the same inflationa­ry forces.

The paper mills which make both products are massive consumers of energy and have suffered badly from record-breaking gas and electricit­y prices in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Last month the maker of Andrex said its factory in Barrow-in-furness, Cumbria, would replace a third of its natural gas consumptio­n with hydrogen produced using locally sourced wind and solar electricit­y.

The worst could be yet to come: supermarke­t prices for lavatory rolls could increase futher, as wholesale tissue costs have surged to an all-time record this week of €2,200 (£1,900) per ton, up from less than €900 in January last year, according to Bloomberg data.

Lavatory paper price rises are comfortabl­y outpacing the consumer prices index (CPI), which reached 10.1 per cent in July and is expected by analysts to be 9.9 per cent in August.

At the start of the coronaviru­s pandemic, shoppers loaded their trolleys with dozens of rolls leading to nationwide shortages.

In the first week alone, customers spent an extra £17.6million compared with the year before.

Inflation has been tipped to go much higher later in the year, with Goldman Sachs forecastin­g as much as 22 per cent.

However, the £170billion package of energy support for consumers and businesses that is expected from Prime Minister Liz Truss this week means CPI may have peaked, according to Barclays.

Among all products on Trolley.co.uk including food, the price of vegetable oil has seen the highest rise since last August, jumping 47.5 per cent as a result of Ukraine’s key role in sunflower production.

Grocery price inflation hit 11.6 per cent in August, equalling the level last seen when the global financial system was on the brink of collapse.

Rising prices mean shoppers are expected to fork out an extra £533 on food this year, according to Kantar. Milk, margarine and crisps have seen the biggest rises.

Experts have predicted that food inflation will continue at this level for

at least another six months, heaping more misery on families who were already bracing for high energy bills this winter.

A can of Heinz baked beans, for instance, costs a huge 51.6 per cent more than it did three years ago at the Big Four supermarke­ts.

Tesco and Heinz became embroiled in a spat over pricing earlier this year that briefly led to empty shelves.

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