The prices of face masks in Belgium - including disposable, reusable, and FFP2 masks - remain increasingly varied across the market, according to the latest information from consumer protection organisation Test Achats.
After comparing the supply of the masks available on the market in June 2020 with the current supply, it found that the fluctuation between prices has gone up by six times in certain sales points, even though the average has dropped.
"For example, in some pharmacies, surgical masks are sold for €0.20 each, while in other places the price rises to €1.27 each. Before the pandemic, the price of such a mask fluctuated between €0.10 and €0.30 per unit," said Julie Frère, spokesperson for Test Achats in the organisation’s press release on Thursday.
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Test Achats found that while in June the prices were still considerably higher in pharmacies than in supermarkets, the roles are now reversed, as the price of disposable masks has halved in most pharmacies, with one unit now costing around €0.50 on average.
The organisation found a clear disparity in pricing among various supermarkets but explained this may be because they need to clear stock and cannot sell at a loss.
It also stated that in theory, a surgical mask is of better quality than a disposable comfort mask, a difference which is also reflected in the prices, as the price range of the former fluctuates between € 0.20 and € 1.27, whereas a comfort mask may only cost between € 0.11 and € 0.79.
Comfort masks are the masks for the general public that can help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, complementing the so-called "barrier gestures" such as hand hygiene and social distancing rules.
"However, this is no guarantee that the masks also meet the quality standards. Our own test in June 2020 showed that several masks on the Belgian market do not meet the standards," the press statement read.
"For this very reason, we have long been calling for the government to impose more controls on the quality and certification of face masks being sold, and to increase quality standards for manufacturers of comfort masks.”
The Brussels Times