The Coronavirus has put extreme pressure on the production and supply of PPE. Disposable glove use continues to rise in the medical and food industries, as infection control measures are more important than ever; while in the industrial, retail and logistics industries gloves are being worn to help protect staff from contracting the virus itself.
Just as worldwide shortages of masks and disinfectant products have increased the prices of those products, single-use gloves, particularly nitrile, have become increasingly difficult and costly to come by during the pandemic. We discuss the reasons for the price increases below:
1. SUPPLY AND DEMAND
There has been a 45% increase in global demand for nitrile disposable gloves since the start of COVID-19. Put that into figures, the supply and demand deficit equates to a shortfall of 214 billion disposable gloves - demand has exploded while the supply is only growing incrementally.
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.
This is leading to glove manufacturers posting record profits, attributed to the increased production, a higher volume of gloves sold and significantly higher average selling prices compared with 2019. Net profits as high as a sevenfold increase are now being reported.
2. PRODUCTION COSTS AND CAPACITY
As glove manufacturers produce at their maximum output, the increased glove demand continues to far exceed global supply availability.
The lack of workers in glove manufacturing, due to health and social restrictions of the pandemic, is resulting in increased production costs. Factories must implement Covid testing to avoid the spread of the virus in their facilities, otherwise lockdown measures occur, as has happened to one of the world’s largest glove manufacturers, affecting thousands of workers.
There are also reports of nitrile glove capacity constrained by the shortage of glove moulds, which are essential for production.
3. RAW MATERIALS
The worldwide shortage of nitrile gloves is predicted to continue for more than a year into the first half of 2022 due to a lack of raw materials.
Factories that supply the raw materials are adding new capacity based on the previous year’s demand - insufficient for current demand levels. Building new factories to handle the current demand of nitrile rubber can take upwards of 18 months to be operational.
"The shortage of raw material for our nitrile gloves and the disruption to the supply or production of other material such as packaging materials due to the global lockdown, has caused an increase in the production cost," according to the world's biggest producer of rubber gloves.
4. THIRD-PARTY DEALERS AND HEDGE FUND INVESTMENTS
Social media is awash with third-party dealers offering gloves at exorbitant prices to those desperate enough to purchase from them, in order for their business to continue to operate. Some factories are offloading rejected quality stock they are unable to sell directly to hospitals and governments without legal risks. That is, rejected stock off the production line, offloaded through freight forwarders and third-party brokers without export paperwork which is legally required.
Additionally, investment firms are financing glove purchasing deals in return for large profit share, which in turn is driving total glove cost.
The culmination of these factors are the reason nitrile glove users have seen a dramatic increase in cost throughout 2020. With prices likely to continue increasing for the foreseeable future, purchasing gloves, especially during a pandemic, does come with quality and safety issues for users, particularly in the medical and food industries.
With reject and counterfeit gloves currently on the market claiming to be medical and food grade, always:
- Ask your supplier for quality standards of the product you are purchasing;
- Preferably review product samples; and
- Always purchase from a reputable supplier, never a dealer. If the product is available in bulk, it is likely the supply chain has been compromised.
At Eagle Protect™, we supply the highest quality and responsibly sourced product to protect you and your business. In addition to the requirements set out in our Eagle Supplier Code of Conduct, we are also proud to be the Worlds’ only disposable glove & PPE clothing specialist to be a Certified B Corporation®. This transparency allows us to maintain and hold our manufacturers accountable for product standards and quality of manufacturing, despite the pressures of the pandemic.
Lynda Ronaldson, VP Marketing