Remember last year when there was a run on toilet paper?

Remember how people were somehow worried that it would run out and they might have to somehow live without the ultimate luxury?

Well, in a kind of distorted reflection of that primal yet apparently misguided fear, for the past few weeks we have been struggling to get prices from many of our best print partners across Europe and beyond.

They’re not being lazy, or have too much work… it’s rather that they don’t know how to build the paper element in to their quotes.

Last year the paper mills decided to throttle paper production – in truth that probably made sense given the pandemic and the doubt surrounding, well, everything as we knew it.

But now we are faced with a double edged problem that is impacting significantly on the industry – on the one hand we are being told that there is going to be a “substantial” price increase in September, so printers cannot commit to a price – and on the other, we are being told if we place an order now (mid-August 2021 for those of you only getting around to reading this now!) we might be lucky and get supplies in November, but more likely December…. and then, of course, the holidays will hot so it may be next year.

For the print industry paper is important. It’s hard to overstate quite how important. Paper and ink. If you’re missing either of those two components you simply can’t do your job.

And this is not just a European problem. Australian colleagues are being told they will have to wait 9 months for stocks.

A print facility is an expensive venture. A print facility without paper is just a black hole into which you throw money.

So for the time being we are going to have to accept of or both of the following realities. Either we wait to print until stocks become available; or we print on the available stock. There are going to be a number of judgement calls being made with these two choices at their core in the coming weeks.

For those of us in the print industry, not having toilet paper now seems like an insignificant problem.