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    2024 Cleanroom Product Cost Analysis: Adapting to Supply Chain Realities

    Costs and prices for cleanroom products – gloves, wipers, masks, caps, coats and coveralls – experienced relatively stable costs and prices for decades, with reliable projections for supply and demand.

    The COVID-19 pandemic severely disrupted supply and demand of the raw materials used to make cleanroom products. Since cleanroom products compete directly with PPE products for raw materials, labor and manufacturing capacity, the impact in our industry was dramatic.

    Plus, every manufacturer dealt with the higher production costs in transportation and labor. The balance of supply and demand for raw materials is recovering, but there are still impacts today that require understanding and caution for cleanroom product buyers and users.

    Raw Material Shortages In 2020 Drove Up Prices

    In 2020 and 2021, demand skyrocketed for nitrile, latex, polypropylene, polyethylene, and microporous.

    Nitrile and latex are used to produce PPE gloves, polypropylene is used in PPE face masks, and polyethylene and microporous are used to produce PPE isolation gowns. These are the same raw materials used for cleanroom gloves, face covers, bouffant caps, coats and coveralls.

    Intense competition for raw materials quickly drove up costs, in some cases more than 10 times pre-pandemic levels. Cleanroom product manufacturers had to compete with PPE producers for scarce materials.

    These massive shortages of raw materials in 2020 and 2021 caused correlating spikes in cleanroom product costs and prices.

    Raw Material Markets Return To Equilibrium

    In 2022 and 2023, raw material shortages eased, with supply and demand for these inputs returning to equilibrium. With a few exceptions, raw material costs are down from their pandemic peak and back to their pre-pandemic levels. What has not recovered are production costs of labor, transportation and energy.

    Higher Production Costs Piled On And Stuck Around

    Supply chain disruptions from the pandemic increased transportation and labor costs. The pandemic eased but market forces ranging from inflation to labor shortages to climate change have contributed to keep transportation, labor and energy costs elevated for manufacturers, including for cleanroom products.

    Returning To A New Normal

    In short, we’ve seen relief in raw materials costs since the peak of the pandemic but not enough yet to fully offset the substantial increases in labor, transportation and energy costs that have continued since the pandemic.

    Cost for manufacturers – and prices for customers – should stabilize at this new normal for the foreseeable future. 

    Caution: Pandemic Profiteers Are Still Trying To Unload Non-Compliant Product Overstock.

    During the pandemic, new players entered the market – some in the form of unqualified glove makers who sought quick profits by producing poor quality gloves. Customer reports and product inspections by U.S. Customs and Border Protection revealed product variability and inconsistency from pinholes to glove thickness and color and introduced the potential for contaminant risk.

    In addition to producing non-compliant products, some manufacturers jumping in during the pandemic overestimated the ongoing demand for gloves, contributing to excess supply. Some are still trying to offload excess supplies of gloves that are non-compliant.

    Low glove prices marketed as “overstock inventory” may be attractive but pose greater, more costly risks to cleanroom operations if the product is accepted without being fully tested and verified to published specifications.

    Our warning:

    Be very careful to qualify new sources of cleanroom products, especially gloves, offered at less than market rate prices.

    Rely on your pre-qualified, trusted manufacturers, like Valutek, and verify your products conform to the specifications you qualified them to.


    Explore More Resources:

    How to Establish a Standardized Qualification Process for Cleanroom Consumable Manufacturers

    Import Bans: How Unethical Labor Practices Impact Business Continuity

    5 Reasons to Trust Valutek as Your Critical Environment Consumables Manufacturer

    The Significance of Qualifying Secondary Sources of Cleanroom Products



    Valutek is one of the first and few manufacturers to offer a full product portfolio of best-in-class cleanroom products. Since 1988, our controlled environment consumables are helping leading organizations operate their cleanrooms in a consistently stable state.