B.C. will need 412 million face masks in the next 12 months, report says

B.C. could need as many as 412 million face masks - both surgical and non-medical types - in the next 12 months as the economy reopens tentatively without a COVID vaccine being available.

That’s the analysis of Ottawa-based Allam Advisory Group, which has been helping the federal and provincial governments procure PPE import supplies since the pandemic shut down the country in mid-March. According to the report, based on the demand CEO and founder Omar Allam sees in the market (as well as projected needs as more people return to public spaces), the entire disposable mask market in Canada may grow to as large as $3.5 billion (or almost 3.3 billion units) by May 2021.

“We believe this rate of growth is elevated by what are likely sprints to re-open the economy, easing restrictions at the Canada-U.S. border, new measures introduced for non-medical masks in Canadian transportation systems, usage in public/workplace, and from initial bursts of demand brought on by mask availability…,” Allam said in the report.

B.C. would rank fourth among provinces for face-mask demand, the report said, behind Ontario (1.2 billion units), Quebec (758 million) and Alberta (413 million).

But while the demand side of the equation is robust, the picture is reversed when it comes to supplies. Allam said while Ottawa has launched an unprecedented drive to procure face-mask imports while also stepping up domestic production, current figures show that about 330 million masks have been ordered - and only 33.5 million have been delivered, putting the backlog at “near-record levels.”

With demand and funding likely coming from government for the foreseeable future, Allam said the situation represents major opportunities for mask manufacturers and those in their supply chains to experience investment from both Ottawa and venture capitalists. However, as some smaller players cannot meet the investment requirements, we may see consultation in the market as more players enter the fray, he noted.

To ensure Canadian companies come out on top in the competition to meet the country’s PPE demand, the key will be leveraging “highly agile production” that includes “proactive and resilient supply chain networks.”

“Canadian companies that focus on the fundamentals… will be the ones who survive and thrive in the long-term,” Allam concluded.