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Strong Demand for Nitrile Gloves in 2021
The year 2021 started out with some unique challenges that have caused a strain on the nitrile glove supply chain. Specifically, the demand for nitrile gloves is high, while at the same time, there is a shortage of this essential personal protective equipment. As you can imagine, this has caused a whole host of issues that directly affect end-users, nitrile glove suppliers, and everyone in between. Let's discuss a few aspects of this situation.
Glove Supply & Demand has Remained Unbalanced
Signs of a nitrile glove shortage started in the year 2020 when the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic took its toll, creating an extreme unbalance in supply and demand. This unbalance has only worsened since then as the need for quality protective gloves grew as the virus cases surged.
It's most apparent when you evaluate the U.S. Strategic National Stockpile, where its pre-COVID nitrile glove count was close to 4 billion gloves, but was recently counted at only 72 million gloves, which is concerning. In addition to this, the overall current demand is 585 billions gloves a year according to market analysts. However current production can only make 370 billions gloves a year and new manufacturers for 2021 will only be able to make an additional 50 billion gloves, thus creating a shortfall of 165 billion gloves.
Below you will find a few specifics on the supply and demand issue that is currently taking place:
Demand - Why is there a High Need for Nitrile Gloves in 2021?
From the start of the pandemic last year, to the beginnings of 2021, through the current day, there have been many factors that have increased the need for disposable nitrile gloves. This is especially true due to the fact that this specific glove type is preferred over latex when protecting against COVID. Please see our article on Nitrile vs Latex Gloves - A Comprehensive Guide to obtain more information on the specifications of each glove.
Let's review three reasons the demand has surged:
1. All Medical Facilities Require Hand Protection
Because of the risk of contracting or spreading the virus, all medical professionals have been advised to wear hand protection - from hospitals to independent physician's offices. Those physicians who were already using gloves have noted that their consumption has gone up by two boxes a day.
2. COVID Vaccine Rollouts Elevated the Demand for Nitrile Gloves
Reliable gloves are needed when administering the COVID vaccine, and distribution has recently started. This has greatly increased the need for hand protection. Additionally, the vaccine rollout will start to speed up as the months go by and will bring about an even higher urgency for nitrile gloves.
3. Increased Glove Use in Various Industries
As mentioned, there has been an increased use in the medical industry, which for obvious reasons, is a priority. However, this leaves other industries falling short on their own glove supplies. What is left is being requested for frontline workers such as grocery store clerks, post offices, airline staff, various small businesses, and many others.
Supply - What's Causing the Low Numbers
It's especially difficult for those who are in need of protective gloves when the traditional avenue of obtaining them falls short. Supply issues have occurred for the following reasons:
1. Limited Number of U.S. Nitrile Glove Manufacturers
There are very few companies that make nitrile gloves in the United States. This has never been an issue in the past, but due to the sudden increased demand for nitrile hand protection, many distributors who once ordered domestically were forced to seek out international manufacturers. However, these overseas facilities were already operating at full capacity before the pandemic. This didn't leave much room for additional operating hours to increase their output for the new high demand. The end result is that the supply the international manufacturers produced didn't meet the amount needed.
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2. Largest Overseas Manufacturer Closed Facilities
Top Glove, one of the world's largest glove manufacturers located in Malaysia, was forced to close many of its facilities due to a COVID outbreak among its workers. In fact, over 2,000 employees had tested positive for the virus. The overall glove supply took a huge hit because of these closures.
3. Shortage of Labor, Capacity, and Raw Materials
The sudden demand for nitrile gloves has put a strain on manufacturers, caused a scarcity of resources, hampered the ability to find enough workers to produce the amount needed, as well as produced significant capacity issues. This has caused output to remain at a lower level than what is required to meet the quotas requested.
How Does this Glove Shortage Directly Impact End-Users?
Coming up short on needed personal protective equipment such as nitrile gloves, as you can imagine, has impacted end-users in a negative way. There are two aspects of this that we will discuss below:
Individuals May be at a Higher Risk
Without an adequate supply of nitrile gloves available, healthcare workers, in particular, are put at risk when forced to utilize lower quality glove types. Or worse yet, reuse their gloves that were intended to be single-use only. Additionally, as mentioned, medical workers are the first to receive what gloves are available, leaving other industries to fend for themselves when it comes to using superior hand protection. In sum, a shortage can leave individuals unprotected.
Buyers Affected by Unavoidable Price Increases
The result of having a high demand for nitrile gloves, while at the same time, having a shortage, is that price increases are inevitable. A lack of manufacturers who can keep up with the demand, as well as shortages of raw materials, and everything in between, has caused distributors to be hit hard with higher costs. This, in turn, impacts the end-users who now have a higher price tag also.
In the end, having access to quality protective gloves, and safety in general, is priceless, and worth paying a little more to safeguard yourself and your staff.
Gain Peace of Mind by Ordering from a Trusted Source such as Gloves.com
Gloves.com is well structured to stay on top of the need for quality hand protection during this pandemic. How is this the case? Essentially, our long-established relationships with reputable manufacturers have equipped us to continue to stay fully stocked to meet the high demand for nitrile gloves in 2021. If you require hand protection such as this, please visit our nitrile gloves ordering page. In addition to this, please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have.