In a recent interview with the Nikkei Asia, the CEO of Malaysian company Karex Berhad, which produces more than 5.5 billion condoms annually, attributed the slump in demand for condoms to COVID-19 pandemic-induced lockdowns.
Karex CEO Goh Miah Kiat said that the firm’s sales declined by 40% in the last two years and the company will diversify into the booming medical glove manufacturing business to boost revenues as demand for its production has declined.
The sex industry, which is normally a major condom market, has also been impacted by the health crisis, he said, with sex workers facing challenging conditions. Goh pointed to hotel and motel closures, noting that those locations had provided privacy.
According to the Karex CEO, large-scale government condom distribution programs were also hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
“A large portion [of condoms] is distributed by governments around the world, which have reduced [distribution] significantly during COVID-19,” Goh said. “For instance, in the United Kingdom, the National Health Service (NHS) shut down most nonessential clinics because of COVID-19, and sexual wellness clinics which hand out condoms were also closed,” he added.
Talking about the company’s plans to move into glove manufacturing, which has seen significant growth during the pandemic, Goh said production was set to begin in Thailand by the middle of this year. Similar raw materials and technologies are used in both condom and glove-making, he explained.
Karex posted a full-year loss for its fiscal 2020 ending June, which is the company’s first since it went public in November 2013. Its share price on the Bursa Malaysia exchange nosedived by almost 50% last year.