KUALA LUMPUR—Global demand for rubber gloves will continue to outstrip supply for the next three years at least, according to Kuan Kam Hon, executive chairman of Hartalega Holdings—one of the world's largest producers of protective rubber gloves.
While Hartalega and other leading glove makers are engaged in major capacity expansions, it could take four years to bring inventories up to required levels, Kam Hon added in press information posted Sept. 16 on the company's website.
According to the executive chairman, Hartalega is expanding gloves capacity by about 20 percent a year in response to the surge in global demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This, noted Hartalega officials, is still behind the pace of growth in demand for rubber gloves in developed countries, which has risen by about 120 billion pieces as a result of COVID-19.
The company estimates annual growth in the market at around 30 percent in developed countries, where it has seen demand double. Pre-pandemic, the yearly growth average for the market was 8-10 percent worldwide.
Hartalega's efforts to address the new supply pressures are focused on the expansion of production at the company's "next generation integrated glove manufacturing complex" (NGC) in Sepang, Selangor.
Ten of the 12 production lines for Plant 6 at the site have been commissioned, while the first production line at Plant 7 should be completed by October, officials added.
Moreover, plans to construct four more production units adjacent to Plant 7 are set to increase annual capacity by 19 billion units. The Malaysia group ultimately aims to raise total installed capacity to 95 billion pieces a year.