The global disposable gloves market size was valued at USD 21.28 billion in 2022. It is estimated to reach USD 52.86 billion by 2031, growing at a CAGR of 10.64% during the forecast period (2023–2031).
Gloves are important products among the various personal protective equipment used in the healthcare industry. Among gloves, disposable gloves are designed for single use and should be disposed of immediately after use. Disposable gloves are commonly made from natural or synthetic rubber; they cover the hands and protect the wearer against harmful environmental influences. They are also used by caregivers in the healthcare industry to protect themselves and patients from infections.
Disposable gloves are made of various polymers, such as latex, nitrile rubber, polyvinyl chloride, and neoprene. The gloves can be purchased without cornstarch powder or with powder to lubricate them and make them easier to put on the hands. Single-use or disposable gloves are helpful in the healthcare industry and food processing, law enforcement, and dentistry when protecting the skin against chemicals, contaminants, fluids, or infections. Everyone is safer due to disposable gloves because they reduce the spread of bacteria and germs. Single-use gloves could become contaminated rapidly, but replacing them is simple and inexpensive.
The target population for the usage of gloves is increasing drastically due to various factors like the rapidly aging population, the number of people undergoing various voluntary surgeries, and more. These processes demand the usage of gloves by physicians and nurses routinely. With the rising incidence/prevalence of various acute and chronic diseases, the number of surgeries performed to treat such diseases is also increasing rapidly worldwide.
Several major factors contributing to the growing number of surgeries include the rising geriatric population, more options for minimally invasive surgeries, and technological advancements in surgical procedures. For instance, in the US alone, outpatient surgical practices create a huge demand in terms of the number of surgical procedures performed annually. With the higher procedural volume of surgeries worldwide, the demand for safety materials like gloves is anticipated to increase during the forecast period, driving market growth.
Medical tourism, the process of leaving the home country for treatment in a foreign nation, is booming globally. It was estimated that more than 17 million people around the globe toured different countries for healthcare purposes. The rise in self-awareness, the onset of chronic illness, and the growing demand for sophisticated equipment and apparel are expected to drive the demand for medical tourism, especially in the Asia-Pacific region. The rise in medical tourism in the developing economies of Asia-Pacific and Latin America can eventually lead to higher demand for medical and surgical gloves. This can serve as the hotspot for additional sales of surgical gloves as they are thrown away after a single examination. Likewise, the impact of medical tourism is expected to boost the sales of disposable gloves by 15% during the forecast period.
Sustainability is a major concern that can impact a brand's environment and corporate social responsibility aspects. This can affect the credibility of brands for products such as gloves. However, most disposable gloves are non-recyclable and contribute to environmental damage. Usually, disposable gloves (even latex) take decades to break down in the soil owing to their complex ingredients. Further, carbon emission related to rubber cultivation, latex production, and glove processing is harmful, where the carbon footprint emission of 200 pieces of latex gloves is around 41 kg CO2-eq. Nitrile gloves and chemical-mixed latex gloves are non-recyclable and take years to biodegrade in the soil, thus impacting the ecosystem. Such factors restrict market growth.
Healthcare workers and other frontline staff performing activities involving direct clinical care or people exposed to contaminated surfaces, instruments, and equipment were asked to wear gloves as a protective measure. Many professionals started using the double glove policy to keep healthcare workers safe. For instance, more than 50% of nurses in Australia use double gloves in operating rooms.
Additionally, there is an increasing trend of double gloving among professionals since there is widespread non-compliance among healthcare workers regarding hand hygiene. Research has recently confirmed that when glove integrity is compromised through tearing, splitting, or piercing with a sharp object, there is potential for pathogens to transfer bi-directionally between healthcare workers and anything or anybody that their hands touch. Many professional organizations are also insisting that physicians should start using double gloves. This double-glove trend will increase the demand for disposable gloves and create opportunities for market growth.
The global disposable gloves market is bifurcated into material type, form, end-user, and distribution channels.
Based on material type, the global disposable gloves market is divided into latex, nitrile, vinyl, neoprene, and others.
The nitrile segment is the most significant contributor to the market and is estimated to exhibit a CAGR of 11.03% over the forecast period. When introduced in the market, Nitrile gloves were very difficult to stretch and brittle. The technology for manufacturing nitrile gloves has been improved drastically to overcome these issues. The latest nitrile gloves are the best in comfort compared to latex gloves. One of the major advantages of nitrile gloves is that it is 3–5 times more durable than latex gloves. In addition, they are more resistant to punctures and rips. They provide a very high level of chemical resistance, whatever the chemical used; nitrile gloves provide the best protection for users. This factor, compared to latex gloves, makes them superior in usage.
Nitrile gloves have seen an increase in demand over the years, largely because of the variety of medical uses for which they are suitable. This is creating a huge demand for disposable nitrile gloves in recent years. Many companies are expanding their manufacturing capacities in the nitrile segment to supply more disposable gloves to their clients across the globe. The expanding scope of nitrile gloves adds to their demand in food and beverage, agriculture, chemicals, and other segments.
Based on form, the global disposable gloves market is bifurcated into powdered and powder-free gloves.
The powder-free gloves segment owns the highest market and is predicted to exhibit a CAGR of 10.86% over the forecast period. The powder-free gloves do not have cornstarch in the inner layer, making them more user-friendly, stronger, and versatile. They are widely preferred in the healthcare industry, especially for surgical and examination gloves, followed by the food and beverage and mechanical industries. In addition, powder-free gloves are widely preferred in developed countries like the European Union countries, the US, and Japan, which have banned the usage of powdered gloves in the market. The user-friendly properties that make it free from air-borne infections and other allergies make it preferable among end-users. Powder-free gloves go through a process known as chlorination or polymer coating that helps make latex gloves less form-fitting so that powder is not needed for easy donning and removal. This makes it more expensive; however, this does not largely impact the market.
Based on the end-user, the global disposable gloves market is bifurcated into the medical and non-medical segments.
The medical segment dominates the global market and is predicted to exhibit a CAGR of 11.44% during the forecast period. The medical segment is further segmented into the surgical and examination sub-segments. The COVID-19 pandemic created an enormous demand for disposable gloves, especially examination gloves. The demand for examination gloves surged to more than double that in 2020. Many physicians, healthcare workers, and frontline workers were given disposable examination gloves to safeguard themselves and avoid spreading COVID-19 infections.
Surgical gloves are seen as one of the significant revenue generators for disposable glove manufacturing companies. There is always a high demand for surgical gloves due to the increasing number of surgeries occurring across the globe. Most surgical gloves are durable but very thin to ensure that surgeons have full function and sensitivity to their hands. In addition, many keys and other prominent players are offering a wide array of innovative surgical gloves, further driving the growth of the global medical gloves market.
Based on the distribution channel, the global disposable gloves market is segmented into B2B/institutional, retail, and others.
The B2B/institutional segment is the largest contributor to the market and is projected to exhibit a CAGR of 10.05% over the forecast period. B2B is one of the largely preferred distribution channels. The glove manufacturers conduct research in product development, innovate, and manufacture disposable gloves. In addition to manufacturing, these companies also distribute their products to large distributors/institutions that distribute them to hospitals, labs, shops, online platforms, and other end-users. In the case of medical gloves, group purchasing organizations (GPOs) are directly procuring medical gloves in very large volumes at an economical cost from manufacturers. They are one of the largest independent customers of medical products like gloves. Most hospitals that consume a larger volume of disposable gloves or a chain of hospitals will order directly from the manufacturers to get the product at a discount, thereby eliminating the intermediaries and distributors in the supply chain.
North America Dominates the Global Market
Based on region, the global disposable gloves market is bifurcated into North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East and Africa.
North America is the most significant global disposable gloves market shareholder and is estimated to exhibit a CAGR of 9.31% over the forecast period. The main reason for North America's significant market share is a sizable section of the afflicted population and greater access to treatment for various acute and chronic ailments. North America is a major target for various key players in the disposable gloves market. Many major companies, including Kossan, Top Glove, and Supermax, hope to capitalize on the North American market's continued demand for disposable gloves by expanding their operations there through mergers and acquisitions or introducing innovative new products, such as gloves that can withstand high temperatures and punctures. In addition, this region has a well-established healthcare infrastructure. The number of people undergoing surgeries has been high and steadily increasing over the years due to the reimbursement options and increased awareness among people regarding their health. This increases the demand for medical-grade disposable gloves in the market.
Europe is predicted to exhibit a CAGR of 11.32% over the forecast period. The presence of key vendors, better disease awareness, and high healthcare spending is the primary factor for the high market share of this region. Germany, Italy, the UK, France, Spain, the Netherlands, and Russia are the major revenue contributors in this region. The increasing treatment-seeking population will mainly drive the European market due to improved disease awareness, the prevalence of minimally invasive surgical procedures, and improved patient focus. In addition to the medical segment, the manufacturing and food and beverage segments accounted for the additional demand in the market. Stringent regulatory standards and safety measures for workers are further propelling the demand for disposable gloves in the market.
Asia-Pacific is seen as a region with huge market opportunities for new players. It is also home to the largest glove manufacturers. A low treatment-seeking population associated with social stigma in select regions, low awareness, and comparatively lesser access to healthcare services, especially in emerging countries, are a few factors that limit the usage and adoption of medical gloves in this region. High disease prevalence, improvement in healthcare spending, increased awareness about diseases, and investment in healthcare infrastructure for advanced surgical procedures will fuel the growth of the disposable gloves market in the region. In addition, Asian countries like China, Japan, and Korea have aggressively researched and developed genetic medicines over the last 15 years. Until recently, the field of gene therapy has been dominated largely by investigators in the US and select European countries. However, many products are being approved for use in countries like China and Japan, thereby demanding the usage of clean, sterile gloves in the market.
Latin America has performed the highest number of cosmetic surgery procedures. The region has both developed and developing economies with well-developed healthcare infrastructure. In addition, it is estimated that by 2030 around 17% of the population in the region will be above 60 years. By 2050, most of the elderly population will be under pension coverage, enabling them to undergo surgeries with insurance coverage. This will likely stimulate the demand for surgical and examination gloves in the Latin American market.
In the Middle East and Africa, the lack of awareness about advanced treatment options for acute and chronic diseases like CVDs, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer, and the availability of various advanced treatment options is responsible for the lesser uptake of medical gloves as compared to other regions. In addition, segments like construction, manufacturing, and food and beverage are also undergoing various revolutionary changes in terms of manufacturers' safety, workers' prevention of contamination, and more, which are further contributing to the usage of gloves in the market.
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