Rubber gloves demand jumps 100% globally

The increase is due to countries implementing defensive and preventive strategies to avoid cross contamination


THE Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association (Margma) plans to produce more rubber gloves to meet the rising demand from the central Chinese city of Wuhan that is battling the novel coronavirus.

Margma VP Dr Supramaniam Shanmugam said the demand for rubber gloves has surged 100% globally due to countries implementing defensive and preventive strategies to avoid cross contamination.

“Overall, if you look at it, it puts us (glove manufacturers) in a very good situation because it means that we need to produce more.

“But the challenge on us is to make sure we stay true to our commitment to ensure that we produce at least 10% more than what we are producing at the moment,” he said on the government’s pledge to donate 18 million pieces of rubber gloves to healthcare workers in Wuhan last Friday.

The donors include Smart Glove Corp Sdn Bhd, Top Glove Corp Bhd, Hartalega Holdings Bhd, Supermax Corp Bhd and Kossan Latex Industries (M) Sdn Bhd.

Last week, about three million pieces of gloves reached China while the remaining will be despatched within a week’s time in hopes that the epidemic will be contained as soon as possible.

Dr Supramaniam said the ramping up of production is expected to be maintained for the next four to five weeks as the association notes a surge in global demand.

“That is a very big number of gloves to produce, and we are working hard to fulfil the requirements of our customers,” he said.

He added that the current per capita consumption in China is five pairs, which equal to 10 pieces of gloves for a population of 1.6 billion.

“Now if that per capita consumption goes up by 50%, that means another five to six billion gloves will be required,” he said.

He also said the main issue with the outbreak is the high demand that is not met by the suppliers. “There are no buying problems in China at the moment, I think they can snap the gloves up but it’s the lack of supply that we need to manage,” he said.

Similarly in Malaysia, there have been reports of shops running out of protective face masks.

The outbreak has gone dire that the World Health Organisation declared a global public health emergency.

Meanwhile, on the pledge, Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok said while Malaysians are concerned about the spread of the virus, the government is equally sympathetic towards the country, given the two countries’ deep cultural and business ties built over decades.

“China has been Malaysia’s largest trading partner for 10 consecutive years, with trade growing 8.1% to RM313.8 billion in 2018.

“Culturally, the two countries are intertwined by reason of their historical tryst,” she said.

She added that hospitals in Wuhan are calling out for much needed protective medical supplies such as masks, suits and gloves, as supplies run low.

“I am pleased that the Malaysian Rubber Export Promotion Council and rubber gloves manufacturers have pledged to donate 18 million pieces of medical gloves to be sent to Wuhan,” she said.

The companies were approached during the Chinese New Year holidays to contribute towards helping China in the effort of treating patients there.

“The medical gloves, both natural rubber and nitrile, will be sent to China in batches with the first shipment already on its way to Wuhan.

“Two companies, Top Glove and Supermax, have already donated 2.3 million pieces of gloves via their local offices and distributors to Wuhan,” she said.

Malaysia is currently the world leader in medical gloves with approximately 180 billion pieces exported worldwide.