Understanding the Current State of the Disposable Glove Marketplace

Disposable Glove Marketplace

With the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic
disposable glove use is more important than ever. Food/beverage, healthcare, medical, and the oil/gas industries are driving up global demand. Disruptions in manufacturing are causing a shortage of supply, and an increase in prices.

The majority of gloves are made in China, Malaysia, and Thailand. During the first months of the pandemic these countries shut down factories and production of gloves came to a halt. These shut downs caused a massive back up, resulting in a shortage of vinyl, nitrile, and latex gloves. Adding to the shortage, Asian governments limited exporting PPE until their countries’ medical needs were satisfied.*

Although factories are starting to open again, some are operating at partial production capacity, and the raw materials needed to produce gloves such as NBR (Nitrile Raw Material) and rubber latex are hard to come by. Some raw material allocations are so extreme that factories have temporarily shutdown their operations. **

Unlike many other PPE sectors, where increasing production is relatively easy, single use glove production requires significant capital investments and EPA regulatory approval. It can take up to 4 to 6 months, and a minimum of 2 million dollars to add new production lines. Factories seeking to increase their capacity also require access to more raw materials and skilled workers who may be constrained due to coronavirus restrictions. The United States currently has no domestic manufacturers, increasing our dependence on already established disposable glove manufacturers.****

The increase in global demand but no increase in production is driving up costs, and demand. The US-Based Allied Market Research estimates that the global disposable gloves market amounted to $6.8 billion in 2019, and is expected to nearly triple to $18.8 billion by 2027. Malaysian manufacturer Top Glove, which describes itself as the world’s biggest producer of rubber gloves, said it is seeing orders for 11-12 billion a month, compared with 4.5 billion prior to the pandemic. ***

The unprecedented demand, lack of raw material and the disruption to the supply chain of disposable gloves has caused an increase in production cost.  That cost is being  passed on in the form of higher prices and a shortage of vinyl, nitrile, and latex gloves.  In light of all of this, some companies are sourcing alternative solutions to the standard disposable gloves like using reusable work gloves, substituting latex, vinyl, or chloroprene for Nitrile, and using a low cost glove like a stretch poly to cover exam grade gloves to extend their use. **

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* https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-09-surgical-glove-makers-struggle-pace.html

** https://www.rjschinner.com/blog/literature/Hospeco/L-HBG-0000-S_The%20Disposable%20Glove%20World%20Has%20Changed.pdf

*** https://totalfood.com/understanding-the-realities-of-todays-disposable-glove-marketplace/

**** https://www.ehstoday.com/ppe/article/21127107/glove-manufacturers-conserve-ppe-during-widespread-shortage

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