Increasing rates of healthcare utilization and improving hygiene standards driving demand for Medical and Surgical Gloves in emerging markets

Increasing rates of healthcare utilization and improving hygiene standards are driving demand for Medical and Surgical Gloves surging in emerging markets.

This newly updated analysis of the World Market for Disposable Medical Gloves from Marketstrat projects a decline in latex, the traditional leader, to about 40% over the next few years. Synthetics will preside with a 3% lead in cumulative growth rate. By the end of 2019, disposable medical gloves will exceed $5 billion in revenues on a global level. The US and EU collectively account for well over 60% of exam and surgical gloves used globally. Emerging markets will grow with about a 14% lead over the forecast period.

Asian manufacturers are ramping up nitrile production and investing in technology that allows them to alter the latex-nitrile balance to meet fluctuations in demand. A manufacturing shift that is tilted heavily toward nitrile appears to be essential for profitability. While the dominant trend in mature medical glove markets is diminishing use of latex, particularly powdered latex, emerging markets have a wide open door, with opportunities for all types of medical gloves. Hartalega and Supermax, two of the largest manufacturers and OEM suppliers are launching affordable OBM products to stake out new territory in emerging markets where competition from established MNC brands is relatively low.

The surgical glove segment in the US and EU regions is seeing a rapid expansion of high-tech synthetics like isoprene. Entry barriers continue to be high within this segment due to complexity of manufacturing surgical grade glove materials that can meet international standards. Most traditional glove manufacturers currently lack this capability and face new competition from manufacturers of synthetic polymers like Synthomer and Kraton Polymers.

Marketstrat’s report discusses these and other trends sculpting the medical glove landscape including market shares of leaders and competitive strategies. Market projections in revenues, ASPs and unit sales are provided for the 2013 to 2019 period.

Topics covered include product definitions, strategies, competitive analysis, market shares, key market and product segment parameters, competitive position maps, market conditions, brands, and company profiles.

The report provides detailed market estimates and forecasts in revenues (US$) and unit sales by product segment for 2013 to 2019.

DATA SEGMENTS Market Forecasts (Revenues in US$ and unit sales, 2013 – 2019)

  • By Material/ Application – Exam Gloves (PW latex, PF latex, Vinyl, Nitrile); Surgical Gloves (PW latex, PF latex, Synthetic including nitrile, polyisoprene and polychloroprene).
  • By Geographical location – US, Latam, Europe, Japan, China, India and ROW
  • By Care Location – Hospitals and Clinics, Long-term care facilities, Outpatient Surgical Centers, Physicians’ offices, Dentists’, Clinical labs, and Veterinary clinics.


Most medical procedures use exam gloves, either sterile or non-sterile kinds. Many of these procedures may expose workers to infectious body fluids such as blood and saliva. Medical use incudes use by clinical staff and use in clinical labs. Exam gloves also come in latex and non-latex varieties. Powdered and non-powdered gloves are available. Powdered gloves are not recommended for procedures involving exposure to pathogenic viruses since the powder may mobilize the virus into the breathing zone of workers.

Gloves used for instrument and general cleaning and disinfection, are exam gloves. Synthetic gloves are the preferred choice for this purpose, since they are resistant to chemical penetration. Until recently, vinyl exam gloves were a popular choice, although mounting evidence of the poor barrier protection for many commonly used disinfectants is causing a trend towards nitrile, which is the least expensive synthetic alternative.


Surgical gloves are used by physicians, surgeons, anesthetists, OR staff and other hospital staff.
Key features of surgical gloves

  • Sterile: individual pair-packaging is used. They are also sold in individual surgical packs that contain other personal protective clothing such as face masks and scrubs.
  • High tactile sensitivity: latex is currently the best material. Thinner materials offer more tactile sensitivity. Some gloves are specially textured for added sensitivity. Nitrile gloves and copolymers are now being used to make glove material that closely resembles latex, with the added advantages of enhanced barrier protection.
  • Easy donning: with damp hands. Traditionally powder lubricant is used to aid donning.
  • Cut-resistance in order to provide adequate barrier protection to blood-borne pathogens.
  • Fit: loose-fitting gloves are more prone to gaps, tears and punctures.
  • Extended cuff preferred. This provides additional protection.
  • Double-gloving in order to optimize barrier protection during surgical procedures. Gloves designed for orthopedic procedures tend to be thicker due to increased risk of punctures.
  • Fitted gloves: these are preferred over ambidextrous gloves since they reduce hand fatigue for people who need to wear gloves for most of the workday. Fitted gloves are however more expensive.

Latex gloves are the primary surgical gloves of choice for workers without latex allergies since they offer good barrier protection against infectious pathogens and fit well, offering superior tactile sensitivity and dexterity required for surgical procedures. Nitrile surgical gloves, originally introduced as a latex-free, hypoallergenic alternative, are now becoming popular for surgical use. The newest synthetic materials are polyisoprene gloves. The most expensive, high-performing synthetics are polyisoprene and neoprene or polychloroprene gloves.

In recent years a number of technological advances have sought to improve surgical gloves. Varieties currently available include powder-free gloves, deproteinized or low-protein, thinner materials, gloves coated with moisturizers or microbicidal agents etc. Some gloves are sold as undergloves, specifically designed for double-gloving.

For information on this report please click Disposable Medical Gloves (Exam and Surgical) Markets Worldwide

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