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The Disposable Mask Business in the Aftermath of a Pandemic: What’s Next?

A man sitting in a mask warehouse with a mountain of inventory

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In the aftermath of a pandemic covid 19, what’s next for the disposable mask business? With vaccination rates increasing and worldwide demand for disposable masks plummeting, many disposable face mask manufacturers are forced to close down and go bankrupt. The surge and plunge in demand has caused some impact on the supply chain. In this context, as a practitioner, this article will analyze the outlook of face mask manufacturers and disposable masks trade from different perspectives.

What is the disposable face masks industry?

 What are disposable face masks?

Disposable face masks are masks that are designed to be used once and then thrown away. Disposable face mask is an equipment that primarily protect wearer’s airways. It is worn over nose and mouth to protect the wearer from inhaling harmful substances or particles. There are different types of disposable face masks, based on the various protection standards and production techniques used.

A black disposable face mask

The most common types are:

  • Civil use face mask
  • Surgical masks,medical mask
  • KN95 masks; N95 masks
  • Dust mask
  • Cloth masks(reusable face masks)
  • Face shields

What is the construction and material of disposable face masks?

The main structure of the face mask is a 3 layer non woven fabric,with elastic ear loops.

A cut-out black face mask with labeled instructions for each layer

The outer layer is a non woven fabric with waterproof treatment,which can filter larger size particles and is mainly used to isolate the liquid sprayed by patients and play the effect of anti-droplet(fluid resistance).

The middle layer is made of melt blown fabric with electret treatment, which can filter bacteria and suspended particles and other particles of smaller scale.

The inner layer is ordinary non woven fabric. The inner layer is related to the comfort level of the mask, mainly absorbing the moisture and water released by the wearer, and mostly using skin-friendly materials.

What are disposable face masks used for?

Disposable face masks are used for a variety of purposes, including protection against droplets, bacteria, and other particles. They are also used in surgical settings to protect both patients and medical staff from the transfer of harmful substances. In addition, disposable face masks are often used in industrial and construction settings to protect against dust and other airborne particles.


  • Industrial use,such as: food processing, pharmaceuticals, mining industry, industrial “clean labs”Pharmaceutical company staff with disposable face masks
  • Healthcare use,such as:hospital, dental, beauty salon, orthopedicA paramedic equipped with a full set of PPE equipment
  • Personal use,such as: protection in public areas, anti-allergy, privacy protectionPeople on the street are wearing disposable face masks

Background of the disposable face masks industry

Behind the mask is an interlocking production chain and a systematic and complete industrial system.

Medical masks are assembled by spunbond non woven layer, meltblown nonwoven layer, ear strap line, nose strip and other components, and according to different kinds of filter cotton layer and activated carbon layer are also added.

The seemingly ordinary product involves many basic industrial categories such as chemical,textile,material,machinery,metallurgy,electronics,etc. It is also related to many basic processes such as material processing, mechanical manufacturing,electrical control,ultrasonic pressure welding, etc.

For these reasons, prior to covid 19,the main sources of masks were concentrated in a few countries with developed industrial chains and mature mask manufacturing technology,such as China,Vietnam,Japan,South Korea,and Taiwan.In addition to a small number of private companies,most of the mask manufacturers were state-owned enterprises or large foreign-funded enterprises.

The global pandemic has had a significant impact on the disposable mask industry.

Just weeks into the covid 19 pandemic in 2020, the supply chain for protective equipment had broken down, creating severe shortages that cost lives. A black market emerged, full of conmen and get-rich-quick schemers. Masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) became the new currency, with some face masks selling for as much as $10 each.In China, the world’s largest mask market, sales of disposable masks more than tripled in February 2020 compared to 2019. This demand was driven by panic buying, as people tried to protect themselves from the virus.

The outbreak of covid 19 has led to a sharp increase in demand for masks. In order to meet the needs of epidemic prevention, many companies have turned their production lines to produce masks, and new mask manufacturers have also emerged.

However, this demand is not sustainable. The pandemic will eventually end, and when it does, the demand for disposable masks will plummet. This has already happen in China, where mask sales have fallen sharply since the outbreak began to subside.

Disposable face mask manufacturer are facing a difficult future as demand for their products decreases

“Why American Mask Makers Are Going Out of Business”,The New York Times interviewed several U.S. mask makers who are facing bankruptcy and closure,“the modern imperative of maximizing shareholder value will always put efficiency and cost over resilience.”Can’t agree more.

Bloomberg had an article with similar views,“Face Masks Were Booming Until They Weren’t”,There’ s some pessimism, but to some extent it reflects the plight of mask makers in the post-epidemic era.

“America’s mask makers face post-pandemic meltdown”,Reuters also has a related report.”If this remains unchanged, 54% of our production will go offline in 60 days and 84.6% in less than a year,” the group said in the letter. The group said they’d created more than 7,800 U.S. jobs in the last year, but roughly a third of those have already been lost to production cuts.

In fact even Chinese mask manufacturers are facing difficulties, affected by the global situation, high prices of raw materials, high shipping costs, in order to maintain the normal operation of production lines, have to sell at zero profit, and sometimes even at a loss. The increased production capacity at the beginning of the epidemic has been excessive, and a steady stream of manufacturers are closing their factories.

What to expect from the disposable mask industry in the aftermath of a pandemic

Mainstream market import data of masks 2018-2020

Annual U.S. imports of medical masks from major countries worldwide for the 2018-2020 triennium
No.CountryMedical Mask Imports 2018 (USD)Medical Mask Imports 2019 (USD)Medical Mask Imports 2020 (USD)2018 (Market Share) %2019 (Market Share) %2020 (Market Share) %% YoY (2019/2018)% YoY (2020/2019)
7Taiwan, China4949325058673508813681771.221.320.4318.5538.68
12United Kingdom1406186016418856148688750.350.370.0816.76-9.44
16Hong Kong83797795163094346507010.210.120.18-38.39571.12
Annual imports of medical masks from major global countries in the EU during the 2018-2020 triennium
No.CountryMedical Mask Imports 2018 (USD)Medical Mask Imports 2019 (USD)Medical Mask Imports 2020 (USD)2018 (Market Share) %2019 (Market Share) %2020 (Market Share) %% YoY (2019/2018)% YoY (2020/2019)
3United Kingdom1006553301000885133051521335.134.771.25-0.56204.88
5United States5791658453537486703046922.952.550.29-7.5631.32
8Taiwan, China2933401229300463351155431.491.40.14-0.1119.85
11South Korea15614946110535731458676880.80.530.6-29.211219.64
18Hong Kong9900084100638992255710910.50.480.921.652141.39
Japan’s annual imports of medical masks from major countries worldwide for the 2018-2020 triennium
No.CountryMedical Mask Imports 2018 (USD)Medical Mask Imports 2019 (USD)Medical Mask Imports 2020 (USD)2018 (Market Share) %2019 (Market Share) %2020 (Market Share) %% YoY (2019/2018)% YoY (2020/2019)
1China987,755,491007977325460498546478.4176.7989.072.05356. 85
3South Korea30702542353870081181203942.442.692.2815.26233.8
4China Taiwan2852837233928732431717122.262.580.8318.9327.24
5United States2463724534197401231131811.952.60.4538.8-32.41
19United Kingdom1405142138082614265480.110.110.03-1.733.31
24Sri Lanka66216163605511511150.050.050.02-3.9480.98
25Hong Kong52549520434715511830.040.020.03-61.11659.09
29New Zealand1960714535975327900.010.01641.38418.22

By comparing disposable mask import data for FY18 and FY19, it can be seen that the annual import value of the world’s largest economies, the US and EU, grew by roughly 7-8%, with the growth mainly due to the rapid growth of hospitals worldwide, as they are mainly used by healthcare professionals.

What to expect from the disposable mask industry after the epidemic?

We expect the disposable mask industry to still have relatively stable growth after the epidemic,This is mainly because the industry still has a certain market space.

Growth Factors in Asia

The Asia-Pacific region, with its large population base and increasing number of medical centers and hospitals, will drive the mask industry, especially in some Asian countries, shifted their cultures after a pandemic to embrace mask-wearing in public places.

Growth Factors in North America

North America is expected to grow the fastest. Increasing pollution and airborne diseases are the major factors affecting the demand for disposable masks in the region. Around 60% of the U.S. citizens live in areas with high air pollution, which directly affects their health. In addition, the increase in the number of medical centers in the U.S. and Canada is significantly driving the market growth.

Growth Factors in Europe

The surge in the number of surgeries and OPD sessions is driving the market significantly. According to the latest statistics provided by the World Health Organization, there are approximately 6 million inpatient surgeries in Europe every year.

In addition, the rising trend of custom and printed masks reveals new opportunities in the disposable mask market. There will also be an increase in research and development of new technologies to improve the efficiency of mask production. Ultimately, the disposable mask industry will emerge from the pandemic stronger and more efficient.

How to get ahead in the disposable mask business if you’re looking to start your own company

There are a few key things to keep in mind if you’re looking to start your own disposable mask company in the aftermath of a pandemic.

First,it’s important to have a strong manufacturing base. Can your company supply high-quality masks at a competitive price?If there is no local industry chain advantage for disposable mask production, we suggest you import directly from advantageous origin, such as China or Vietnam. The vast majority of local producers can provide you with customized production, including product logos, packaging boxes, etc., all of which will be provided 100% according to your requirements.The most important thing is that you can get the most competitive price advantage.

Second, it is also very important to have a good understanding of the market and your competitors. Where are your biggest customers? Who are your competitors? What are their strengths and weaknesses?We recommend that you focus on industry clients such as medical groups, medical centers, health systems, etc.Often mask manufacturers also produce other products, such as disposable isolation gown, disposable gloves, disposable protective coveralls, etc., PPE products,which are needed by professional customers at the same time,You can logically increase your sales through other products.

Third, it is also necessary to have a good after-sales service system. After the customer purchased the product, if there is any problem with the product, they will first contact the after-sales service.You need to have a professional after-sales team to deal with customer complaints in a timely and effective manner.

In short, these are a few things to keep in mind if you’re looking to start your own disposable mask company. With a strong manufacturing base, good market knowledge, and a good after-sales service system, you’ll be well on your way to success. Thanks for reading! We hope this was helpful.

Do you have any questions or suggestions? Please let us know in the comments below!

This blog post was brought to you by the team at YouFu Medical. We’re a disposable mask manufacturer with over 10 years of experience. If you’re looking for high-quality, affordable masks, please check out our website or contact us today! Thanks for reading!

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Hi, I’m Jackie Xu, the funder of med-disposable.com. I’ve been running a factory in China that makes disposable protective equipment for 8 years. The purpose of this article is to share with you the knowledge related to disposable protective products from a Chinese supplier’s perspective.

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