Disposable gloves are a pre-requisite in the food and drink industry, protecting both the individual and the process from harm and potential contamination. However with some debate around the migration of harmful particles from vinyl gloves, as well as concerns around the sourcing of some types, Stephen Beresford, Strategic Marketing Manager at Supertouch offers an alternative solution.
When you consider the various hygiene rules within the food manufacturing sector, it ’s clear to see why coloured gloves; red, green and yellow are an essential feature. Often viewed as a commodity item however, purchases are won and lost on the basis of cost and so with environmental factors now placing an increasing threat on availability within the market –it ’s important that industry begin to consider other options.
Based predominantly within the northern region of China, vinyl glove production and manufacturing is reliant on carbon intensive technology, namely coal, which in turn generates large emissions. As air pollution across the northern Chinese regions rose, earlier this year, the Chinese government called for the closure of the manufacturing plants for a 45-day period.
While this may not seem a lot, the potential ramifications are extensive for UK glove markets, leading to a shortage of supply. This 45-day period came to an end in March, but the repercussions are expected to be felt, across the market for some time yet.
Since then, China has pledged to cut PM2.5 concentration by at least 15 percent year-on-year in 28 northern cities from October to March to meet smog reduction targets. The Ministry of Environmental Protection released a 143-page action plan, listing detailed targets, controlling measures and punishments.
For the food and drink industry, no supply is clearly not an option with health and safety standards paramount throughout the production process. As with any shortage of supply –the cost of the product rises and while suppliers aim to mitigate the effect of these cost rises, at some point they will have to be passed on to customers.
Assessing the market and alternative solutions therefore, Supertouch has identified ultra-nitrile gloves as a suitable, and in fact superior alternative to vinyl - offering improved fit, dexterity and abrasion resistance. In principle, this means an enhancement to the quality of gloves currently used, particularly from an allergen and food migration perspective –and where latex allergies are a concern. In fact, nitrile is commonly viewed as a higher performance material, presenting a more superior product solution to the market place.
With this in mind, and to support industry through the potential shortage, Supertouch will be offering the colour-coded ultra-nitrile gloves at a similar cost point to its current vinyl glove range. While a more superior product, Supertouch has identified that the need within the marketplace outweighs the potential loss during the time. The business will continue to monitor the situation in China closely and make any necessary adjustments to its product portfolio, as required.