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International Paper CEO says there is ‘plenty’ of diapers

The shelves of some stores may not have toilet paper and diapers, but the products are weaving through the supply chain, International Paper CEO Mark Sutton told CNBC on Friday. 

“Diapers and toilet paper, there’s plenty of it,” Sutton said on “Squawk Box.” “It’s just got to get the velocity through the system, through the distribution centers and directly to the consumers.” 

The dramatic increase in demand for products such as toilet paper, paper towels and diapers due to the coronavirus will not last forever, Sutton said. 

“Hopefully when people realize they have a lot of diapers they’ll slow down their purchases,” said Sutton, whose company is one of the largest makers of fiber-based packaging, pulp and paper in the world. 

International Paper makes materials for diapers while also supplying pulp products needed by paper and tissue manufacturers, according to its website. 

The supply of raw materials needed to make items such as toilet paper and diapers is “running wide open,” Sutton said. 

“I do think it’s a little bit of dislocated demand that should settle out over time,” said Sutton, who is also on the board of Kroger, the largest supermarket chain in the U.S. 

The spread of COVID-19 has brought the American economy to a near halt and disrupted daily life and supply chains across the world.

As the global pandemic persists, Sutton said some manufacturers are streamlining their operations to respond to increased demand. 

“If you take some of the variety down, you’ve got latent capacity to make more of the product, but less variety of the product,” he said, such as a reduction of sizes and scents.

“What’s really heartening to look at is that is being worked very heavily across the supply chain so we can make sure that we build efficiencies in and make sure the products are available,” he added. “I believe you’ll see actually a better stock over time for some products.”  

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