IGA Helping Hand

The wintering period

What does it mean for latex glove sales?

The wintering period may sound like the time of year that the snow birds, aka retirees from the northern United States, travel south for the winter months to escape the many inconveniences that snow can cause.

The context referred to here does not relate to snow at all, but to the coldest months in places where rubber is grown.

So what does the wintering period have to do with the price of latex gloves in the United States and the rest of the world?

The wintering period is an annual event that falls between February and May. During this period, which lasts approximately 4 to 6 weeks, the leaves of the rubber tree die and fall off, and new leaves are formed. Both the metabolism of the tree and latex production are substantially affected.

Accordingly, rubber production is normally low during the rainy season. During the wintering period, rubber production shrinks 45% to 60% from the peak.

These seasonal variations are important factors influencing the latex glove market. Latex glove distributors tend to restock inventories in anticipation of even higher latex prices during the wintering period. Typically, after the wintering period ends, there is a marked increase in the supply of latex.

There are, of course, many factors that affect supply and demand in the disposable latex glove market. Seasonality of the harvest, as mentioned above, is just one factor. Tsunamis, earthquakes, blight (notably the South American Leaf Blight), price speculation, pandemics, adverse weather/growing conditions, competition for farm land from other grains, etc. are exogenous factors that guide supply and demand and which ultimately determine disposable glove prices. The vast majority of natural rubber (NR) goes toward the production of tires, and tire manufacturers tend to get the raw materials before glove manufacturers as there is limited supply. Therefore, it is hard to predict the price effect on latex gloves.

The three largest rubber-producing countries are Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia, which account for roughly 72% of the world’s NR exports. Generally speaking, the major areas affected by wintering lie in a tropical belt between 20 degrees N and 10 degrees S.

It mostly affects supply, but supply, in turn, impacts demand. Since the factories always seem to run at full capacity, any glitch causes suppliers to rush out and buy as much inventory as they can in order to avoid being stocked-out.

In summary, supply of NR decreases annually during the wintering period, so glove manufacturers try to account for this. But any unanticipated increase in demand will reduce inventory levels and will likely lead to price hikes in the end product, latex gloves.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to ISHN.

Recent Articles by Rob Brown

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

Scenes from the World of Safety

Sights, signs & symbols from the National Safety Congress & Expo held in San Diego, CA, September 15-18

3/31/15 11:00 am EST

Changes to NFPA 70E® – What You Need to Know

NFPA ® for Electrical Safety in the Workplace is revised every three years, providing the most up-to-date requirements for safe work practices to reduce exposure to electrical hazards. This program analyzes several significant changes in 70E ® and is designed to clarify the reasoning behind the changes, and assist in determining how the changes impact employees and employers.

ISHN Magazine


2015 February

Check out the February issue of ISHN, which features articles about hand protection.

Table Of Contents Subscribe


M:\General Shared\__AEC Store Katie Z\AEC Store\Images\ISHN\safetyfourth.jpg
Safety Engineering, 4th Edition

A practical, solutions-driven reference, Safety Engineering, 4th edition, has been completely revised and updated to reflect many of today’s issues in safety.

More Products

For Distributors Only - January 2015



For Distributors Only is ISHN's niche brand standard-sized magazine supplement aimed at an audience of 2,000 U.S. distributors that sell safety products. Circulation only goes to distributors. 



Facebook logo Twitter YouTubeLinkedIn Google + icon

ishn infographics

2012 US workplace deathsCheck out ISHN's new Infographic page! Learn more about worker safety through these interactive images. CLICK HERE to view the page.