covid-19 related ppe supply outlook - 2021
Last year we addressed several shortages in the Personal Protective Equipment industry. This year we thought it was a good time to reevaluate the supply shortages of Nitrile gloves, N95 Face Masks, and Hand Sanitizers.
Nitrile Disposable Glove shortage
Last year in August, we reported the causes of "The Shortage of PPE Disposable Gloves in the World" due to extreme demand and raw supplies. Rubber trees are the source of raw materials for nitrile gloves and grow predominantly in Malaysia and China where most nitrile gloves are manufactured. The onset of the pandemic first caused a depletion in supplies due to extreme demand, then high virus cases caused restrictions in manufacturing. The return to regular production output has been a slow process. We are continuing to see supplies struggle to meet demand. With the increased demand and a decrease in production, the prices have shot up as much as 300 - 1200%. Another aspect of the supply shortage has been a sharp increase in the number of distributors, many of which are new to the PPE industry. Unfortunately, the market is expected to remain this way thru 2021.
n95 face mask shortage
Last year we also wrote about the "Raw Material Shortage for Face Masks and Disinfectant Wipes". Unfortunately this year the global demand continues to outpace production. According to Premier, a company responsible for buying medical supplies for 40% of the hospitals in the US, "the N95 usage has increased by 500% since July of last year". We are also hearing reports that hospitals have to extend the wear of N95's designed for single-use to help mitigate against the supply shortage. Outside of the healthcare industry, other sectors are experiencing a shortage as well. Major supplies such as 3M and Honeywell increased production last spring and summer but didn't come close to the 3.5 billion masks that federal officials estimated were needed to fight the virus. And with the introduction of new COVID-19 variances, the supply of N95's this year will continue to be in high demand.
Hand sanitizer shortage
Last spring the FDA changed the regulations to include hand sanitizers made from ethanol alcohol to help with supplies during the pandemic. Well, it worked very well and many distilleries produced ethanol products to make hand sanitizer and help combat the shortage. The huge demand also gave rise to toxic hand sanitizers containing methanol.
USA Today reported earlier this month that the shortage of hand sanitizer is officially over, in fact, we have a huge surplus and many manufacturers and retailers are trying to dump supplies with discounts and giveaways. USA Today also reports that the hand sanitizer imports have drastically fallen from 9,000 containers in July of 2020 to 274 in March of 2021.
The demand for hand sanitizer is well above the demand before the pandemic, so brand names like Purell are still performing very well. Many distilleries that were producing ethanol last summer have since stopped.
To summarize Nitrile gloves and N95 masks will remain in high demand with continued inflated pricing. Hand Sanitizer supply will continue to improve with pricing returning to pre-pandemic levels.