Remember when latex exam gloves were cheaper than nitrile exam gloves? Not so anymore. Fluctuating currencies and the rising cost of the raw materials used in the manufacturing of medical exam gloves has dramatically affected the cost of latex medical gloves.
The price of natural rubber latex has been volatile, to say the least. The cost of latex has gone up tremendously over the past year. Demand for tires in China, the world's biggest consumer of rubber, and the high cost of oil, has resulted in manufacturing cost increases this year that greatly affect manufacturers.
While disposable glove manufacturers work hard to absorb these increases, the raw material costs account for about two-thirds of the cost of the end product. Some of this cost increase is passed on to glove importers. Glove importers do what they can to mitigate the increased cost, but ultimately they must share some of the burden with their customers in the form of higher prices for gloves on their shelves.
Due to increased awareness of latex sensitization, and an increasing number of healthcare professionals wanting to avoid the risk of latex allergy, the trend in medical and healthcare facilities has been to transition from latex to nitrile exam gloves. The ever narrowing price gap between latex gloves and nitrile gloves has made this transition easier for many. Glove manufacturers have been working hard to accommodate the demand for nitrile gloves, converting many of their latex manufacturing lines to nitrile, and building new factories.
But nitrile exam gloves haven't escaped cost increases either. Nitrile gloves are petroleum based, and when the cost of oil goes up, so does nitrile glove raw material costs. Add to this the higher cost of transportation and strengthening currencies in Malaysia, and you can expect the cost of nitrile exam gloves to rise.
Fortunately, the raw material costs are not on the upswing indefinitely. The recent slowdown in China's economy, combined with lower oil prices, has allowed the price of natural rubber and nitrile to decline for the first time in a long while. Raw material prices are expected to moderate into the fourth quarter of 2012. This will help lower the cost of the raw material and transportation costs for latex and nitrile gloves.
Sudden demand has had less of an effect on medical glove prices that many would suspect. The H1N1 influenza and SARS scare resulted in a sudden demand for medical gloves as state and county health facilities across the country stockpiled infection control supplies, including gloves. Glove manufacturers are able to quickly ramp up production and keep up with higher demand.
Medical exam glove prices are most affected by raw material costs, such as rubber and petroleum products, and fluctuating currencies. As the markets continue to climb or fall, glove prices will continue their roller coaster ride along side them.
Cenergen Supply is a trusted source for medical exam gloves, nitrile exam gloves, disposable gloves and other medical supplies.