As toilet paper flew off shelves at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic this past spring, so, too, did kitty litter.
Absorbent Products, located on the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc reserve, experienced a bump in demand for its kitty litter products, as a result of pandemic shopping, and it does not appear to be slowing down any time soon.
Absorbent Products director of sales Barry Baker said while others have taken a hit economically during the pandemic, the Kamloops company has been fortunate to be serving essential industries, including the pet industry.
“While there was a run on toilet paper, there was also a run on cat litter,” he said. “It can be a good problem to have, to have a whole bunch of increased demand, but we are the major manufacturer of cat litter in Western Canada. The number of orders we had, the demand was just absolutely mind-boggling. It really put us through our paces.”
Although many businesses have been negatively affected by pandemic, some businesses have been kept busy, including bike shops, landscaping services, pool companies — and kitty litter manufacturers.
Absorbent Products manufacturers diatomaceous earth into products that include ice melter, insecticide, industrial level absorbents, feed additives and kitty litter.
Kitty litter is the foundation upon which the company was built, Baker said, noting brands people would recognize on store shelves include Litter Essence, Kozy Kitty, Wundercat, WC Cat and Cattitudes. If you see a kitty litter brand that states “Made in Canada,” Baker said it was likely made in Kamloops.
Baker said while people stocked up on kitty litter at the beginning of the pandemic, demand does not appear to be slowing down, with people increasingly turning toward adopting fuzzy friends while stuck at home as the health emergency drags on.
“If anything, we probably have more cats at home just because we’re staying at home,” he said.
Baker said the company has done a “really good job” keeping up with demand. Non-essential staff have been working from home, while physical distancing and sanitization have been prioritized for production staff. While Absorbent Products has not run out of product, Baker noted supply chains have been taxed, including for packaging.
“I don’t anticipate that we are going to run out, but listening to different industry insiders in the retail space, what we’re hearing is demand for this kind of product and farm and ranch products will probably continue for 18 months after the COVID-19 pandemic has run its course, in large part because consumers are really changing their behaviour,” he said. “We are anticipating that the demand is going to continue to stay very strong and we are building our business around that.”