How to Avoid the Price Explosion in Disposable Gloves

How to Avoid the Price Explosion in Disposable Gloves

In today’s world, disposable gloves have become both increasingly scarce and expensive, making alternatives more necessary than ever.

We are living in unpredictable times, so you may need new solutions to keep workers safe without disrupting your company’s bottom line. The price explosion in disposable gloves is a recent problem that could use some creative thinking.

Why Have Disposable Glove Prices Exploded?

The disposable glove market recently experienced what could be called a perfect storm of issues. Rubber trees are the source of materials that are used in disposable gloves, like latex and nitrile. These trees only grow in hot, tropical climates, so single-use latex and nitrile gloves are exported almost exclusively from the two countries with the majority of the rubber trade—Malaysia and China.


The sudden, extreme increase in disposable glove demand because of COVID-19 combined with high virus cases in China and Malaysia early in the pandemic initially caused shutdowns, then a slow return to production. As many countries are still struggling with the virus, these materials are less available than ever, causing prices to shoot up as much as 300 percent. In some cases, the prices have increased a whopping 1,200 percent. If buyers don’t increase their bids and pay the higher prices, materials for disposable PPE go to higher bidders. There have even been reports of cash buyers jumping ahead of the line to buy large amounts of stock so they can resell it at inflated prices.

While the answer in normal times is to simply jump to another supplier who can offer a better price, in this case, all disposable glove suppliers are in the same situation. Prices are in a constant state of flux as buyers are forced to pay market price when their products are shipped rather than upon order. So, if the price is higher at shipment than it was when they originally placed the order, the buyers have to absorb the additional cost. Unfortunately, this situation is expected to persist through 2021.


This article originally appeared in the January/February 2021 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

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    March 2021

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