Strict proactive measures were taken at a very early stage of the pandemic to protect our employees’ safety and wellbeing, which has ensured that our operations have continued to run safely and with limited impacts.
Regarding Suominen’s business, the demand of nonwovens for cleaning and disinfecting wipes as well as nonwovens for medical purposes has increased and consequently our sales volumes increased in all our markets.
We expect the higher demand to continue on high level. COVID-19 may lead to a sustained increase in the use of nonwovens for cleaning and disinfection products. However, the risks related to the pandemic, such as possible shortages of raw materials, issues linked to logistics as well as potential closures of customers’ or our own plants due to virus infections or authority decisions remain relevant. We have already started to experience exceptional volatility in the cost and availability of raw materials and transportation.
The key risks caused by COVID-19 are related to the health and safety of Suominen personnel and customers, possible shortages of raw materials, issues linked to logistics as well as potential closures of customers’ or our own plants due to virus infections or authority decisions. These risks remain valid in the beginning of 2021 as unfortunately, the coronavirus situation has been deteriorating in many countries and so far vaccinations in many countries have not progressed as rapidly as could perhaps have been hoped. Some of these risks have materialized as some of our customers' production facilities have been temporarily closed because of infections.
We have implemented extensive precautions to protect the health and safety of our employees and to ensure business continuity and progress of our strategic projects during these unusual times. We continuously monitor the raw material situation closely and we have identified risk mitigation measures such as utilization of supplementary raw material sources.
We have developed nonwovens for various healthcare needs, including facemasks and protective clothing. Our materials have been tested in Finland and they have met the requirements in terms of filtration efficiency and pressure drop for materials to be used by healthcare professionals. We have invested in upgrading one of our existing production lines in Nakkila in Finland to enable the large-scale production of these materials.