Bulk Sourcing Solutions for Nitrile Gloves during COVID

The last eight months have been, in a word, unpredictable. The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the way our country operates, forcing government officials, healthcare professionals, and corporate buyers to deal with unprecedented procurement challenges.

As of this writing, there are 11.4 million active cases of coronavirus in the United States, a number that continues to rise daily. As government officials work to meet demand while simultaneously protecting staff, many have run into PPE sourcing issues. The latest challenge: disposable nitrile gloves.

This rising demand has made it difficult for our agencies, health- care professionals, and companies alike to track what is required to keep our employees safe.

Nitrile Gloves in Low Supply

Nitrile gloves have become scarce amid the global pandemic, and wholesale pricing has increased by an average of 170% percent. Even the Strategic National Stockpile is running low on these protective gloves in the face of high demand. The Department of Health and Human Services set a goal to store at least a 90-day supply, the equivalent of 4.5 billion gloves. However, as of the end of October, the stockpile only had 2 million.

Those numbers are more than concerning, especially as current demand is estimated to be around 8.7 billion -nitrile gloves - per month. This shortage is particularly felt in the United States. In fact, there’s only one manufacturer in the U.S. that produces nitrile gloves: Showa Group.

Because there are so few domestic nitrile gloves available, distributors must look internationally to find much-needed supply. It’s estimated that 99 percent% of nitrile gloves are manufactured in Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and China, mostly due to the fact that the raw ingredient for these gloves is exclusively available in Asia.

To further complicate matters, gloves already currently available are naturally only advised for single use. While it is possible to reuse nitrile gloves, the FDA generally does not recommend this practice, which leaves government officials and essential business owners in need of more supply.

This shortage is making it challenging for government officials and essential businesses to access the supplies they need to protect staff and consumers.

Nitrile Gloves Proven to Help Prevent the Spread of COVID-19

Hand hygiene etiquette and mandates differ by industry, but the CDC has provided general guidelines for coronavirus prevention measures based on different working sectors.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also offers umbrella guidance to the general public for use of such gloves. The CDC suggests using nitrile gloves when:

  • Caring for an infected individual: If you are providing care to a loved one who is sick in your home or private setting, wear gloves to clean areas they may have touched and whenever making contact with the sick individual’s bodily fluids or secretions.
  • Cleaning: When disinfecting and cleaning your home, be sure to wear gloves and maintain good ventilation within the space. Then, remove the gloves and wash your hands.

Finding Nitrile Gloves

Fortunately, US suppliers are adjusting to meet glove demand by proactively sourcing PPE essentials.

One distributor, iPromo, is an experienced importer out of Chicago. This company made a successful pivot from branded merchandise at the start of the pandemic, keeping millions of gloves rolling in from Asia on a weekly basis to their U.S. warehouses. Thanks to their longstanding business partnerships with foreign vendors, they’ve been able to secure allocations of nitrile gloves and other personal protective equipment.

Sourcing and supplying PPE supplies has definitely been a strategy shift for companies like iPromo; pre-pandemic, the company curated and decorated corporate gifts and promotional products. However, owner Leo Friedman leveraged long- standing relationships in Asian countries to source critical quality PPE from the beginning of the pandemic. Since then, the company has launched a new division with a dedicated sourcing team: iHealth by iPromo -— focusing on sourcing everything from hard to find N95 medical masks to disposable gloves, gowns, KN95 non-medical masks, and even oximeters.

Friedman says if you’re interested in sourcing nitrile gloves, simply request a quote directly from iPromo.com to receive factory-direct pricing for FDA certified nitrile gloves based on your thickness and size requirements. He also said government clients include Federal Bureau of Prisons, Veteran Affairs, USPS, and the Navy.

Since shifting their strategy to focus on providing COVID-19 prevention products within the iHealth line, Friedman states they’ve taken care to follow two guiding principles: cost plus pricing (no price gouging) and always working with empathy and urgency to take care of their clients.

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