Millions of face masks remain unsold in France post crisis

June 15, 2020 - France

As some 400 French textile firms shifted production to manufacture face masks because of a shortage of personal protection equipment during the COVID-19 crisis, it has created a surplus of 40 million such masks. French consumers are now being urged to buy domestically-produced reusable face masks instead of imported single-use ones, often from China.

The industry feels the step would help the financially struggling textile sector and face coverings are better for the environment as well.

With the epidemic subsiding, textile companies are left with large inventories of masks and unused fabric, according to the Union of Textile Industries (UIT).

UIT has requested the government to stockpile these face masks in preparation for a possible future epidemic and "in recognition of industrialists who reconverted their production at its request", according to French media reports.

It argued that the cost of using the durable and non-perishable face masks is ‘significantly lower’ than that of disposable masks. A few companies said the masks have a lower carbon footprint as they are produced in the country.

In response, the secretary of state to the minister of economy, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, called on businesses to buy such masks for their employees. A ministerial mission has also been entrusted to two entrepreneurs, including the UIT's president, to adjust supply to demand over the coming months.