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The impact of COVID-19 on the Chinese Disposable Hygiene Products Industry

In early 2020, a sudden outbreak of COVID-19 spread over the world. It will inevitably cause heavy losses to global economy, bringing many uncertainties to future development. However, absorbent hygiene products are characterized by rigid demand, and the effects of COVID-19 on products consumption are limited in the long time. Nevertheless, the epidemic is likely to cause shuffle in the entire hygiene products industry, and some enterprises with small scale, outdated equipment, insufficient R&D and innovation capabilities, non-standard operation and weak strength will be eliminated.


China has gradually controlled the epidemic through effective prevention and control measures, and most enterprises in the hygiene products industry-fully resumed work and production at the end of February. Protective masks were insufficient in initial stage of the epidemic. Driven by market demand and government regulation, many hygiene product enterprises actively engaged in the production of masks and other protective articles, alleviating the shortage of mask supply. The COVID-19 spread all over the world since March, 2020. China received considerable overseas mask orders, and more enterprises entered the field of mask production due to much higher profit than hygiene products. Massive production of masks occupies the raw materials of disposable hygiene products, leading to shortage of nonwoven supply. Driven by the profit, the price of nonwoven was maliciously raised to a much higher level than its normal range, seriously destroying market competition environment and affecting upstream raw materials such as nonwoven fiber and chemical fiber particles. From early April, the supply of nonwovens for the hygiene products industry become insufficient and the price soared. Some sanitary napkins, diapers and wet wipes manufacturers were forced to sop production because of raw materials shortage, so the hygiene products industry already affected by the epidemic suffered a more serious blow.


At present, about all the raw materials of China’s hygiene products can be made in our own country, except for fluff pulp which is mostly imported from the USA. The USA is one of the countries mostly affected by COVID-19. Once the epidemic causes problems in production or shipment of paper pulp, and the gap in supply cannot be made up by the homemade material, which should be noted by hygiene products enterprises.


The impacts of COVID-19 on import and export have emerged. According to the data from the Customs, from January to February 2020, the export volume and value of sanitary napkins reduced than those in the same period of 2019. The import volume reduced, while the import value increased. The import volume and value of baby diapers showed double-digit decline, while their export volume and value showed single-digit growth. The import and export volume and value of sanitary napkins and baby diapers from Jan to Feb 2020 showed double-digit decline than those from Nov to Dec 2019. The decrease of export should be temporary. The export will get better with full resumption of work and production in enterprises, gradual improvement of global epidemic control and some foreign markets’ dependence on Chinese products. The high-end market gap caused by the reduction of imported products is an opportunity for the hygiene product manufacturers in China.



COVID-19 has an indelible influence on people’s daily life, especially on consumption behaviors and concepts. During the epidemic, the importance of physical safety and health needs has been enhanced, and protection consumption has become the most prominent consumption, which will last after the epidemic. The outbreak of the epidemic objectively improves consumers’ health awareness and quality requirements. Enterprises need to respond to consumers’ needs with a more pragmatic attitude and provide high-quality products and services.


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