Latex rubber gloves manufactured in Malaysia disrupted © Samsul Said/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Latex rubber gloves manufactured in Malaysia disrupted © Samsul Said/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Covid outbreak at PPE supplier may push up prices

25 November 2020

The world’s largest manufacturer of rubber gloves – Malaysia’s Top Glove – has warned global prices may be pushed up after it was forced to stop production due to a massive Covid-19 outbreak.

Top Glove told a news conference it had temporarily stopped production in 20 of its sites in Meru, near Kuala Lumpur, while a further eight were operating at significantly reduced capacities.

The moves came after more than 2,500 and of its employees tested positive for coronavirus.

Top Glove warned markets the stoppages would lead to delivery delays of between two and four weeks.

It also anticipated longer lead times for orders and a potential 3% impact on projected annual sales for the 2021 financial year.

The company said the delays might have the effect of forcing up global rubber glove prices.

Executive chairman Lim Wee Chai said: “Of course, there is some shortage as Top Glove is a big supplier in the world. Supply will definitely be affected somehow ... there is a possibility that glove prices will go up.”

He said the company would prioritise orders to hospitals and health services.

The company said it was trying to shift sales orders to unaffected factories where possible and reschedule deliveries to minimise market disruption.

“We are working closely with the relevant authorities with regard to our manufacturing facilities in Meru, Klang, as well as to conduct the screening of our workforce in our factories there,” it said in a statement.

Malaysia’s senior minister of security Ismail Sabri Yaakob said at a briefing that Top Glove is now the single biggest contributor to the country’s Covid-19 cases, with 2,684 cases linked to the company so far, according to The Straits Times.

Top Glove accounts for about a quarter of global supply gloves, producing about 90bn rubber gloves a year, and exporting to 195 countries.

In September New Zealand’s largest medical and personal protective equipment (PPE) supplier stopped importing gloves made by Top Glove, according to The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC), an international watchdog. This came after Top Glove was accused of using forced migrant labour.

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