The consumer price of disposable face masks has dropped significantly in Finland over the past week.
Up until two weeks ago, disposable mouth and nose protective pads cost about one euro apiece, or even more in many places, but now the price per unit has generally fallen by 10 to 20 cents and in some cases even dropped by half.
Over the past week, the S-Group retail chain has cut the price of a box of 25 masks to 11.90 euros, and a box of 50 to 19.90 euros, making the average unit price about 40 cents per mask.
The price of a box of 25 masks at S-Group stores had been 15.90 euros a few days ago, and had been as high as 19.90 euros last week.
The products are face masks imported by Elers Medical Finland and Medkit from China, and have a CE certificate, which means they meet the requirements of EU directives.
"Availability has improved and we have good relationships with suppliers. Not all stores have yet received enough supplies to meet demand, but we are working to ensure that the stock will soon be on shelves," the S Group's Janne Paananen told Yle, but would not provide any details on the profit margins earned when the prices of masks were higher.
"We do not comment on margins for individual product items, but the situation has changed. We constantly monitor the fluctuation of demand and supply, day by day, and this is the price at which we now operate," Paananen said, adding that the current demand is about ten times higher than in the early summer.
Prices drop elsewhere, but amounts vary
Prices of masks are also falling at other retail outlets, with the unit price of masks imported from China now typically varying between 60 and 80 cents per unit.
The base price for a box of 50 Chinese-produced masks has fallen to between 30 euros and 45 euros this week, depending on the store.
Meanwhile, the unit price for disposable masks made in Finland is generally between 80 cents and one euro. For example, a box of 15 masks produced by Ahlström-Munksjö and Filterpak, and sold by the K-Group retail chain, costs 15.90 euros--which is slightly more than 1 euro per mask.
The price range of masks which can be reused several times is between 3 euros and 15 euros per piece.
Sales of masks began to grow rapidly two weeks ago, when expectation of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare’s (THL’s) recommendation on the use of masks peaked before the official announcement on 13 August, and demand has remained high.
However, manufacturing of masks has declined in the main importing country, China, although production levels in Finland are being increased.