2019 Novel Coronavirus Driving Surging Demand for Disposable Masks, Protective Apparel, & Related Medical Supplies in China

The 2019 novel coronavirus is driving a surge in demand for disposable medical supplies in China, where the market totaled $27.2 billion in 2017, according to a Freedonia Group analysis. In particular, Chinese government officials have called on suppliers from a range of industries – including the auto and energy sectors – to focus on meeting the abrupt demand spike for face masks. The nonwovens-based item is seeing near-universal use throughout China’s mega cities.

The state of China’s nonwovens market

As the number of reported coronavirus cases continues to rise at alarming rates in mainland China, domestic nonwovens producers – which collectively accounted for 43% of global output in 2017 – are ramping up production to meet elevated demand for masks, protective suits, and other nonwovens-intensive disposable medical supplies that can be used to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Chinese demand for nonwovens used for medical/surgical products is forecast to grow at one of the fastest rates of any application through 2023. China became the largest nonwovens market in the world over the last decade as part of a broader trend of extremely rapid expansion throughout the country’s economy:

  • GDP growth brought substantial reduction in poverty levels and transformed China into a global manufacturing leader, including in the production of goods containing nonwoven materials.
  • The Chinese nonwovens market was slightly smaller than the US market in 2007 but by 2017 was well over twice as large.
  • The Chinese market for finished medical disposables products made from nonwovens (e.g., face masks, surgical drapes, surgical and patient gowns) has also been seeing dramatic growth, albeit from a much smaller base, rising to 10% of global sales by 2017.

Will coronavirus effect markets outside of China?

Travel restrictions, quarantines, and other measures are likely to limit the impact of coronavirus in other countries. However, perceptions of increased public health risk could lead to greater demand for nonwovens materials and the face masks, hospital gowns, protective apparel, and other items made from nonwovens outside of China.

Sales will be particularly strong in the Asia/Pacific region where the threat is higher, but also worldwide to some extent given the prolific international media coverage of the outbreak and that global suppliers ship protective apparel and other medical disposables into China as well.

Want to learn more about the global medical disposables & nonwovens industries?

See Global Medical Disposables and Global Nonwovens from The Freedonia Group.