While size isn’t everything, the world’s largest condom manufacturer has claimed that the prophylactic market shrunk as much as 40% over the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an interview with Nikkei Asia, Goh Miah Kiat, CEO of condom giant Karex, explained that while it would be assumed that lockdowns would lead in an increase in condom use, this has simply not been the case.
“He explained that in developing and less-developed countries, hotels and motels play important roles in providing secluded spaces for intimacy, given generally crowded homes where privacy is at a premium,” Nikkei reported.
“[Hotel stays were] disrupted by the pandemic,” Goh said, adding that the sex industry had also been limited during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Goh then explained that governments who pulled out of free condom distribution had also contributed to the issue.
“A large portion [of condoms] is distributed by governments around the world, which have reduced [distribution] significantly during COVID-19,” he said. “For instance, in the United Kingdom, the NHS [National Health Service] shut down most nonessential clinics because of COVID, and sexual wellness clinics which hand out condoms were also closed.”
Goh also pointed out that the fight against COVID-19 should not overshadow the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS.
“We must not overlook the frightening fact that even 40 years after the first cases of AIDS were documented, the world is still reporting 1.5 million HIV infections and 680,000 deaths from AIDS-related causes per year,” he said. “It is critical that while we have managed to make strides to get control of the pandemic, we must not lose focus of the fact that condoms will still have a critical role to play as the world emerges from its fight against the COVID-19 virus.”
Following these challenges, for the first time since going public in 2013, Karex experienced a full-year loss for 2020. Meanwhile, the company’s share price on the Bursa Malaysia stock exchange plummeted nearly 50% last year.
“In contrast, Ng Chi Hoong of Affin Hwang Investment Bank said the operating environment is expected to be remain challenging for Karex even as the company expects demand to improve in the coming quarters as social activities resume,” Nikkei noted.
“The current recovery mainly focuses on developed markets for both the own-brand manufacturing and the commercial segment, while demand for the tender market is likely to remain lackluster, as recent government funding remains focused on securing COVID-19 vaccines instead,” said Ng.
“Karex’s Goh said the new rubber glove factory would begin with two production lines with an annual capacity of 500 million pieces and would be expanded to 10 lines and 2.5 billion pieces annually. In comparison, Top Glove — also a Malaysian company and the world’s largest latex gloves maker — produces about 100 billion pieces annually,” Nikkei added.
Ian Haworth is an Editor and Writer for The Daily Wire. Follow him on Twitter at @ighaworth.