safety glovesThe U.S. glove industry grew by 16.5% in 2011, according to the International Glove Association’s (IGA) annual Market Survey. The double-digit growth represents a significant increase over prior years’ results and foretells a strong, positive year for glove manufacturers and distributors selling to U.S. customers and exporting abroad.

The U.S. total market demand for leather gloves grew by 30.3% to roughly $178 million and sales of Thinwall products increased by 13.1% to about $3.8 billion. Sales of textiles were up 35.2% to $683 million.

Combined, these increases averaged out to an overall industry growth of 16.5%. Sales to distribution increased 16.4% to $4.6 billion and distributor sales to end users also increased 16.4% to $6.2 billion.

Domestic sales increased 6.0% to $127 million and exports increased 9.5% to $138 million. U.S. leather import units outpaced export units and totaled 14.7 million. Export units totaled 429,560. Import values totaled $324 million versus export values of $12 million. Net import values increased 20.8% to $312 million.

Here are a few other key findings from IGA’s 2011 Market Survey:

• Within the U.S. Thinwall market, the cost per dozen of medical nitrile imported gloves continued to rise, reaching almost $1.40, compared to $0.60 in 2002.

• Medical latex imported gloves cost per dozen reach almost $1.30 in 2011, up from $0.70 in 2002.

• Industrial plastic imported gloves cost per dozen reach $0.33 in 2011, up from $0.25 in 2002.

• Cotton string imported gloves cost per dozen ballooned from about $1.60 in 2010 to $2.20 in 2011.  

• Palm coated imported gloves cost per dozen increased to $12.00, up from about $8.00 in 2002.  

The positive industry growth can be traced to several important trends:  employers putting more emphasis on workplace safety, a growth in safety compliance regulations, and the ongoing education and awareness efforts of groups like the IGA.

“Gloves play a critical role in today’s workplace, where the health and safety of workers is a growing concern for companies,” says Bill Trainer, the IGA’s past president and current board member. “We don’t expect this to recede in 2012 and foresee more positive growth for the industry over the coming months.”

About the International Glove Association

The IGA represents every facet of the hand protection industry, including glove manufacturers, distributors, importers and exporters, manufacturers' representatives, and suppliers. The organization’s deep roots can be traced to 1902, when the first glove association was formed. Since then this forward-thinking group has pioneered new marketing techniques, introduced technological innovations, and promoted the safety, health, and economic benefits of hand protection. The IGA works to increase public awareness, expand markets, and enhance the profitability of its member companies. It also speaks for its membership on legislative and regulatory issues of common concern and works with other industry groups to accomplish appropriate and mutual objectives. Visit the IGA online at