What do Malaysians think of contraceptives?

There is no football on television, you are not allowed out anyway: Social distancing has paralyzed public life, but the distance in the beds of the world seems to be decreasing. Many use the free time and forced closeness to their life partner for physical closeness. This is suggested by the movements in the condom market.

Demand is increasing, while supply is falling. That is why market leader Karex from Malaysia, which produces one in five rubber in the world, is now warning of a global bottleneck. The three Malaysian factories had already been idle for more than a week, the country's government had stopped production to stop the spread of the corona virus. As a result, the company has already produced 100 million fewer condoms than usual. Karex manufactures more than five billion condoms a year and exports them to more than 140 countries, where they are sold under brand names such as Durex and Carex. Many factories are also idle in the other two major producer countries, China and India.

The manufacturer Ritex from Bielefeld is experiencing the largest March sales in its history

Several countries such as Australia, France and Germany are now reporting that people are buying significantly more condoms - if there are any. Empty shelves are still just a snapshot. For example, condoms in a Lidl branch in Wuppertal were already out of stock two weeks ago - but only for a short time, replenishment was on the way. The manufacturer Ritex from Bielefeld has seen "extreme sales increases" in the past few weeks, said a company spokeswoman. They would have normalized a little recently. Nevertheless, Ritex is currently experiencing the strongest March sales in history: around 12.7 million condoms sold. In March 2019 there were only 6.7 million. The company produces exclusively in Germany, so the supply is not endangered by factory closures in Asia. The raw material stores in Bielefeld are also still well filled. "As a medical device manufacturer, we generally have high hygiene standards in use so that our production processes do not have to be restricted by the current situation," said a spokeswoman. Ritex does not expect any bottlenecks.

So for now there is probably no reason to hope for rising birth rates in Germany. In other countries where unwanted pregnancies are a bigger problem than here, the impending condom shortage has less cheerful consequences. Among other things, Karex supplies the United Nations Population Fund, which distributes condoms in developing countries. Because of this particular importance, the Malaysian government approved the company on Friday to resume production, but only with half the normal workforce. However, given the reduced capacity and a certain start-up time for the factories, Karex will not be able to meet the demand. "We're going to see condom shortages all over the world, which is going to be scary," CEO Goh Miah Kiat told the British newspaper The Guardian. "My concern is that for many humanitarian programs in Africa the shortage will not be just two weeks or a month. This shortage can drag on for months."

Karex does not anticipate falling demand in the foreseeable future, said Goh. "Given that people are unlikely to be planning to have children at this point. It is not the time, with so much uncertainty."