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HomeUncategorizedWorld's largest condom maker: Condom sales down during pandemic

World’s largest condom maker: Condom sales down during pandemic

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Karex CEO Goh Miah Kiat says condom manufacturing plants in Malaysia and Thailand are running at near capacity as global orders rebound. Photo by P Prem Kumar via Nikkei Asia
  • People across the globe had less sex during the pandemic, according to the world’s largest condom manufacturer, which saw sales fall sharply over the last two years.
  • The condom industry had been expecting an increase in sales due to COVID-19 lockdowns and widespread economic uncertainty.
  • Sales likely slumped because of hotel and motel closures, Karex chief executive Goh Miah Kiat said.

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA – According to Malaysia-based condom company, Karex, the world’s largest condom manufacturer, global condom sales struggled to stay up during the pandemic.

With the world on lockdown for the better part of the last two years, condom manufacturers assumed people would have more sex as they were confined to the confines of their homes.

Surprisingly, condom sales have dropped by 40% in the last two years, according to Karex CEO Goh Miah Kiat.

Karex, which produces 5.5 billion condoms per year, is affiliated with a number of big names in the contraceptive industry, including Durex and Malaysia’s own ONE Condoms, which are known for their flamboyant packaging and quirky flavors.

The company also manufactures their own brand of contraception and accounts for one out of every five condoms sold worldwide.

Goh predicted that there would be a global condom shortage when the world went into lockdown for the first time in March 2020, citing pandemic-induced factory shutdowns. Unfortunately for him and the entire contraception manufacturing industry, this was not the case.

Condom sales, like other sectors of the global economy, have fallen short of expectations over the last two years. Goh told Nikkei Asia that there was a direct correlation between hotel closures and condom sales. It makes sense, given that people are more likely to violate their privacy.

A lack of sex work (where it is prominent) is another factor that has contributed to the decline in condom sales. In addition, the epidemic halted major government projects involving the provision of free condoms to disadvantaged areas.

“A large portion [of condoms] is distributed by governments around the world, which have reduced [distribution] significantly during COVID-19,” Goh told Nikkei Asia.

“For instance, in the United Kingdom, the [National Health Service] shut down most non-essential clinics because of COVID, and sexual wellness clinics which hand out condoms were also closed.”

These global closures caused by COVID-19 lockdowns have had an impact on the firm’s finances, with the company reporting a full-year loss for the 2020 fiscal year and a 50% share price drop on the Bursa Malaysia exchange in 2021.

Goh says condom sales have slowly increased again, mirroring market statistics from other condom makers such as Trojan and Durex, and he expects the situation to improve as more COVID limitations are eliminated.

Goh, on the other contrary, has other aspirations for Karex, including entering the medical glove industry. It’s appropriate, given the ongoing need for personal protective equipment (PPE) in the fight against COVID-19. It shouldn’t be too difficult for Karex, either, because medical gloves and condoms are made of the same materials – latex and rubber.

This article contains materials from Nikkei Asia.

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