Demand for Disposable Gloves Will Not Be Easing Anytime Soon

With flu season upon us and COVID-19 likely to spread even further, demand for disposable gloves will remain at all-time highs.

Average sales prices of disposable gloves are going in one direction only: up.

The increased need for gloves worldwide, due to both the COVID-19 pandemic and a greater general awareness of health, safety, and hygiene, drives demand. Manufacturers simply cannot produce enough gloves to satisfy their customers.

COVID-19 is not going away, and if predictions are to be believed, its spread will increase this fall and winter with the arrival of flu season.

Countries across the globe are ramping up their use of disposable gloves. Even marginal increases relative to pre-COVID numbers will continue to result in a significant rise in demand.

U.S. is the world leader in usage

Depending on the estimate, glove consumption worldwide before the pandemic found the U.S.—by far the global leader in glove use—using between 150 and 280 gloves per capita. In Europe, that number was between 100 and 150 per capita. Contrast that with China, between 6 and 9 per capita, and India, between 2 and 3.

Then consider that worldwide demand is skyrocketing. In a country like China, with a population of nearly 1.4 billion, or India, with 1.35 billion, even a small increase in use per capita will result in many more gloves needed. Worldwide production capacity at the end of 2019 was less than 300 billion gloves and is slated for only marginal increases in 2020.

It’s all already sold, folks

Industry estimates show that the maximum capacity added by the end of 2021 will be around 20 to 25 percent, resulting in an additional 30 to 50 billion gloves. The added capacity may seem like a significant number; however, all extra capacity is spoken for through advance orders.

Supply is limited by shortages of raw materials and labor, and factors unique to glove production. It is done only in certain parts of the world and requires greater sophistication in manufacturing.

Relief is not coming soon

No one expects any increase in production capacity until the end of 2021. Glove manufacturing is currently dominated by Malaysia and Thailand, with almost 90% of world production. Setting up manufacturing in the U.S. is cost-prohibitive to any reasonable investor and would require major government intervention.

Our recommendation remains: Take the best deal you can get now, as long as it is from a reputable source. Glove prices in 2020 are going nowhere but up.

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