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European PPE demand to increase pressure on post-Covid supply chains
Demand for Personal Protective Equipment is expected to outstrip supply for some time to come, but for longer-term reasons unconnected with the pandemic.
This is according to ASAP Innovations, a leading manufacturer of medical PPE, which states that over the next year buyers should ensure they have a reliable supplier in place.
Recent research reveals ageing populations across Europe as well as new regulatory requirements and an uplift in hygiene awareness will contribute to increasing levels of demand on manufacturers in Malaysia - the country which accounts for approximately 65% of world production.
Expected year-on-year growth in the sector is projected to be 15% - 20%, (296 billion to 420 billion gloves every year). Current global glove usage per second is more than 13,000.
"Significant shortfalls in supply means it is imperative end-users seek out certified suppliers in order to ensure quality across all aspects of production, as well as reliable supply chains,” says Sean Keller, managing director, ASAP Innovations.
"The sector has been through multi-faceted predicaments during the pandemic such as shortages of raw materials, Covid outbreaks in Malaysia and a rise in inferior or fraudulent providers entering the market, and credible manufacturers have done very well to reach a point where a demand / supply equilibrium is once more being achieved. Despite an easing of the pandemic in some countries, demand is still very strong, especially given a new-found appreciation for the need for infection control, both in a range of industrial and personal use contexts."
Sean outlines that while there will be work arounds to these short-term factors, there is a longer term factor on the horizon threatening future supplies: "The most significant long-term factor driving future European PPE demand is a demographic timebomb - namely we are living longer than ever before, and the age profile of societies is rapidly advancing," he warns.
According to Eurostat, between 2020 and 2050 the percentage of EU citizens aged 70+ will increase by 10%, with even larger rises for those groups aged 80+ and 85+. This will result in a significant upturn in the need for equipment for carers as the continent continues to turn grey.
Also, according to The Lancet, it is predicted that within eight years in the UK there will be 2.8 million people over 65 needing nursing and social care, unable to cope alone. "Put bluntly, there will be a lot more future carers treating considerably more vulnerable people, therefore requiring stock in a market which is subject to significant and growing undersupply - a PPE canyon as opposed to a mountain,” remarks Sean.
"In addition, as longevity extends, the working age will also correspondingly lengthen, meaning there will be more, older workers in need of protective equipment across a huge range of occupations. A third of the UK workforce is over 60, and that proportion rises by the year. Essentially, it's not just the older sections of society in need of care that will require PPE on a regular basis.
"As we have seen, there have been a number of barriers for the suppliers to overcome - particularly regarding Malaysian glove production. However, with longer term factors about to impact PPE demand, it's never been more important for purchasers of PPE to ensure they are working with a credible and reliable provider who is aware of worldwide issues and has contingency planning in place to cope with any issues that may arise."
ASAP Innovations has over 30 years' experience manufacturing disposable products that uniquely cater for the healthcare, automotive, industrial, construction, food and beverages industries, with a presence in over 80 countries worldwide and a commitment to hygiene control and quality assurance - its masks comply with EN 14683 and EN149 standards and its gloves comply with EN 455 and EN 374 standards. ASAP Innovations UK was founded in 2019 and is part of a wider team which started in Malaysia as ASAP international in 1988, alongside ASAP Innovations (Europe) based in Ireland.
29th April 2021