How SA toilet paper can be a total rip off

Beyond a preference for one- or two-ply, many South African consumers pay no heed to paper that takes the plunge – but new data shows that you could be getting ripped off.

Consumer website, Retail Price Watch has compiled data looking at various toilet paper brands across South Africa, and broken down how much you’re paying per sheet.

As a daily necessity for absolutely everyone in the world, toilet paper is a Key Value Item which many retailers use to draw consumers to their stores, with deals and discounts. Strangely, it flies under the radar when it comes to regulation, leaving it open to unscrupulous pricing practices.

Following the South African Tissue Manufacturers Association (SATMA) being disbanded, toilet paper has been fairly unregulated in the country. Previously, the association held the standard that 2-ply rolls of toilet paper should have 200 or 350 sheets (squares), with 1-ply at 500 sheets.

Most brands in South Africa still stick to these standards, even though there is no regulatory need to, offering rolls of 2-ply toilet paper at 350 sheets.

However, unwary consumers will find certain brands in the country offering rolls that contain only 250, but charging the same price.

Read:  Price war: Spar vs Pick n Pay vs Checkers – 2012 to 2016

Retail Price Watch broke down the per-sheet cost of these brands, and showed what consumers would pay for a hypothetical 500 sheets.

Store brand toilet paper – price of 500 sheets

According to Retail Price Watch’s Viccy Baker, one brand of toilet paper stands out: Choppies – a Botswanan supermarket which has limited operations in South Africa, primarily in Limpopo, North West and the Free State.

“A pack of ten Choppies single ply rolls costs more than 10 individual rolls (R4.50 each as opposed to R4.29 each),” Baker noted.

A pack of 4 double ply rolls containing only 250 sheets each is R24.99 – or R6.25 per roll.

However, the price of a pack of nine double ply rolls with 350 sheets each is R49.99, or R5.55 each, showing quite a big price jump for fewer sheets.’

Thus Choppies has some of the highest price per sheet toilet paper, despite catering for lower LSM markets.

Cheapest and most expensive toilet paper brands

1-Ply Brands Rolls per pack Sheets per roll Total price Price per roll Price per sheet Price of 500 sheets
Twinsaver 1 500 R6.99 R6.99 0.014 R6.99
Lefofa 4 350 R17.99 R4.50 0.013 R6.43
Twinsaver 4 500 R23.99 R6.00 0.012 R6.01
PnP 4 500 R23.99 R6.00 0.012 R6.01
Checkers House Brand 1 500 R5.49 R5.49 0.011 R5.49
No Name 10 500 R30.39 R3.04 0.006 R3.04
Tirebrand 10 500 R29.99 R3.00 0.006 R3.00
Feel Soft 10 500 R28.95 R2.90 0.006 R2.90
Bunny Soft 36 500 R84.95 R2.36 0.005 R2.36
Bunny Soft 48 500 R111.95 R2.33 0.005 R2.33
2-Ply Brands Rolls per pack Sheets per roll Total price Price per roll Price per sheet Price of 500 sheets
Baby Soft Luxury Shea Butter 9 200 R58.99 R6.55 0.033 R16.39
Baby Soft Luxury Aloe Vera 9 200 R54.45 R6.05 0.030 R15.93
Choppies 4 250 R24.99 R6.25 0.025 R12.50
Baby Soft 1 350 R8.49 R8.49 0.024 R12.12
Baby soft White 4 350 R31.99 R8.00 0.023 R11.43
Correll Royal 9 350 R46.99 R5.22 0.015 R7.46
Ritebrand 9 350 R46.95 R5.22 0.015 R7.45
Correll Royal 18 350 R91.99 R5.11 0.015 R7.30
Spar Brand 18 350 R89.99 R5.00 0.014 R7.14
Chimes 9 350 R41.95 R4.66 0.013 R6.66

Choppies is not alone

“In line with the American research it is true that, in general, you pay more for a single roll than for a large pack,” Retail Price Watch said.

“However, many of the stores leave a bit of a bad smell with the price manipulation of really large packs: a pack of 18 Checkers House Brand single ply costs R4.82 each – while a pack of 15 are R3.88 each.”

According to Jane Molony, executive director of the Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa (PAMSA), the group is working on a tissue paper  working group to deal with tissue related issues.

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How SA toilet paper can be a total rip off