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AUTHOR: Nicolas Bykoff
The US International Trade Commission estimates that 80-90% of U.S. PPE demand pre-pandemic was filled by imports, largely from China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and other Asian countries. Relying so heavily on Asia for PPE led to a predictable script in the pandemic months that followed.
First, government and commercial organizations seeking to procure PPE for their frontline workers faced acute shortages, exponential price increases and an enhanced risk of ending up with inferior or counterfeit products.
To address the supply chain breakdown, the U.S. government moved quickly to re-shore domestic production of gloves, masks and other PPE. The Berry Amendment was extended to PPE via new legislation, and the bi-partisan Make PPE in America Act was signed into law as part of the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act.
Through all of this, it is clear that critical industry organizations from healthcare to transportation to government have a strong desire to buy American – not only to avoid falling victim to the same pandemic supply chain shocks of 2020 but to support American companies and the U.S. economy. But with a product like high-quality PPE nitrile gloves, the desire to buy American has outpaced the opportunity to do so. Why? Because despite bold production statements made by PPE opportunists looking for a quick buck, PPE nitrile glove manufacturing is anything but quick. It is a complex, resource-intensive, multi-year process, one that until recently few U.S. companies had successfully completed.
The takeaway for any organization seeking to procure PPE gloves for their workforce today or in the future is that ‘Made in America’ has to be more than just a marketing slogan. Because meeting PPE glove demand isn’t just about having a domestic manufacturing facility – which few U.S. companies have to begin with – but having every aspect of glove production onshore. In other words, a complete end-to-end PPE glove supply chain.
Legislation Supporting End-To-End PPE Production
The Berry Amendment originally required certain apparel and tools purchased by the Department of Defense to be sourced or processed in the United States. It has since been expanded; the recent infrastructure bill supports glove manufacturers in the USA by requiring all PPE purchased by the Department of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services and Veterans Affairs to be Berry Amendment compliant. The goal? Build up a national PPE supply without relying on products from other countries that could potentially be delayed or faulty.
Partnering with a PPE glove manufacturer that is Berry-compliant is key. This means gaining a full understanding of whether or not your PPE glove partner is reliant on any overseas components throughout the supply chain. And if you are a healthcare entity, procuring PPE gloves that are Berry-compliant is not enough; look for single-use nitrile gloves that have been granted FDA 510(k) medical approval. With FDA 510(k) clearance, hospitals, Group Purchasing Organizations (GPOs) and other healthcare buyers can secure medical gloves certified as safe and effective for frontline workers.
Is Your U.S. PPE Glove Maker “End-to-End”?
For fifty years, SHOWA has provided essential PPE nitrile gloves made in the USA to frontline workers. As a fully-integrated domestic manufacturer, SHOWA is uniquely positioned to meet demand for Made in America PPE gloves.
In a recent effort to increase domestic production, the federal government has invested more than $2 billion into building and expanding domestic PPE manufacturing facilities. To that end, SHOWA Group was recognized by The White House as an example of the Biden Administration delivering on its Made in America Commitments.
Critically, through our Fayette, Alabama glove manufacturing capacity and strategic partnership with Zeon Chemicals, SHOWA gloves has secured the lone domestic source of nitrile butadiene latex. As a result, every aspect of our medical glove production – from manufacturing to raw materials to packaging – is 100% sourced in the U.S. To be a complete end-to-end PPE glove manufacturer, it is critical to have meaningful supplier agreements (i.e. – access to nitrile for gloves) in place and an established market presence beyond what overseas suppliers can offer.
To learn more about SHOWA Group’s Made in America nitrile gloves and our commitment to domestic investment, job creation and production, visit here.