A medic removes nitrile gloves after working with an elderly patient in Hartley Wintney on Saturday. AFP
Malaysia’s Top Glove Corporation Bhd, which makes one in every five gloves globally, expects a product shortage as demand from Europe and the United States spikes and is exceeding its capacity because of the widening coronavirus outbreak.
The company has extended shipping times to cope with the demand surge, Executive Chairman Lim Wee Chai told Reuters by phone on Friday.
Lim said orders received in the past few weeks, mainly from Europe and the United States, were almost double the company’s production capacity. Top Glove can produce 200 million natural and synthetic rubber gloves a day.
There are now more than 600,000 coronavirus cases across 202 countries and territories globally, with the United States overtaking China as the country with the most infections. Europe continues to report the most deaths.
"Some customers panic order; normally they order 10 containers a month but now they suddenly increased to 20 containers,” he said.
The World Health Organisation warned on Friday that the "chronic global shortage of personal protective gear" is among the most urgent threats to the virus containment efforts.
"Definitely there is a shortage. They order 100% more, we can only increase 20% so there is a shortage of about 50% to 80%,” he said.
The exceptional buying momentum could last another three months but orders are expected to remain strong for up to nine months even as demand from Asian markets has started to slow slightly, Lim said.
To cope, the company has adjusted its delivery time from as short as 30 days to as long as 150 days.
Lim said the company was ensuring all its customers get a fair share of extra gloves delivered.
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