Hyderabad: Mask and PPE makers are in a quandary due to low domestic demand and restrictions on demand in the country. Though the installed capacity has touched 41,000 MT per month, the current capacity utilisation is about 30 per cent, said Anshumali Jain, vice-president, Non-Woven Federation of India (NWFI). There are about 200 players who are into making masks and PPEs, including about 25 of them in Telangana.
According to Jain, the domestic demand is falling as many office clusters and industries are not working to full capacity or have been working from home. Also, with the government pushing use of cloth masks, the demand for clinical masks has come down, he said. Masks and PPEs apart, non-woven fabric finds use in industrial safety, agriculture, packaging, hygiene, food processing, carpentry, metal works, need gear like caps, gowns, apparels, working clothes. “A lot of these will go due to changing work habits,” Jain said.
“Since the domestic demand is very low, the industry has been looking at overseas demand, which is serviced mainly by China. The restrictions on export of fabric and masks are also hitting the industry. The domestic demand has been serviced by the end of April or mid of May. From the end of May, the industry has been operating at 30 per cent of the capacity,” he said.
The government has restricted export of 25-70 gsm products, which account for the 80 per cent of the industry production and also market requirement, he said. More than 30 gsm fabric is not used anywhere in the PPEs. With the coating, it is about 50-60 gsm on the whole. “If we talk of the masks and PPEs, not even 12 per cent of the installed capacity is needed to meet the domestic demand. Now, about 800 MT capacity is used to make the same,” he said.
There were less than 25 manufacturers in India of masks. During the last three months, the number has increased to more than 200 mask makers. India can manufacture more than two crore 3-ply masks per day, more than one crore N-95 masks per day. The current domestic demand can be met with less than 10 per cent capacity utilisation, he said. “Most of the mask units are lying idle. People have started selling their machines due to lack of orders. The government in the last week of July allowed export of four crore masks on a quota basis. The same can be produced in just two days. We are losing about Rs 1,500 crore a month business to players in Vietnam, Bangladesh, Pakistan and other nations,” he said.
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