Curative dressings and adhesive bandages are taking over basic models as makers move upmarket.
China suppliers of wound care products are prioritizing functional models under efforts to shift to the upscale market and boost profit margins. Many manufacturers are veering away from basic pieces as a means of coping with the rising cost of raw materials such as cotton, PVC and PE. Improving design performance, and strengthening manufacturing efficiency and capability are companies' other ways of parrying the effects of greater outlay.
In providing more effective medical items, makers are responding to the needs of the aging population, which is among the target end-users in the premium segment. Industry players anticipate requests for curative versions will increase as these allow for faster healing and enhanced convenience.
The selection includes dressings containing silver ions that combine with apoenzymes to deactivate the proteins, killing bacteria and viruses, and preventing them from multiplying. Such models likewise augment zinc, calcium and copper density in wounds for a speedy recovery.
Ningbo Bosheng Medical Technology Co. Ltd is one of the makers offering this type of products. The supplier has released a design in nonwoven fabric with nanosilver. The item is effective in absorbing exudates and acts as a physical barrier to keep out bacteria. The new material, however, is 30 to 50 percent more expensive compared with regular variants.
Several manufacturers are increasing utilization of imported nonwoven fabric to enhance product performance. China Harbin Yeekong Herb Inc. sources the textile from Japan. Although costing three to five times greater than domestic substitutes, the former boasts better medicine absorption.
Aside from silver ion wound dressings, China suppliers offer polymeric foam and film, alginate, hydrogel and hydrocolloid options. The items' porous composition enables faster and greater saturation. The last two versions form a gel to protect the injury. The semipermeable PU film layer is water resistant and blocks bacteria, allowing the patient to shower without the risk of infection.
Besides shifting product categories, companies are boosting operating efficiency and capacity by setting up training courses for employees and building new factories. China Harbin Yeekong has carried out such measures.
Suppliers are adopting strategies of weathering cost increases as surging raw material outlay alone pushed them to impose price adjustments of 10 to 15 percent in 2010. Rates of leaf grade 3 cotton, for instance, doubled from the previous cycle to at least $4,200 per ton in November.
Soaring costs are caused by the ongoing cotton shortage, which is due to some farmers shifting crop varieties to overcome the huge loss they incurred during the economic downturn. In 2008-09, the planting area for the shrub diminished by 20 percent.
Additionally, India limited its export of the material to prioritize and ensure domestic needs. Beginning October last year, the country has imposed a tax-free quota of up to 5.5 million bags only.
Although China produced 7.5 million tons of cotton in 2009-10, representing 30 percent of the global output, supply is still not enough to sustain demand. The manufacturers' greater requirements are a result of industries, including garments and home textiles, bouncing back from the recent crisis.
Further, in November, PVC climbed from $1,300 to $1,450 per ton, while PE reached between $1,700 and $2,200. These show 35 and 13 percent YoY growth, respectively.
Besides climbing material outlay, labor expenses surged by 10 to 25 percent last year. Among the affected companies are Shanghai Oriland, Ningbo Bosheng and China Harbin Yeekong, recording increases of 21, 20 and 25 percent.
The yuan's appreciation is making the situation worse for exporters. Since it affects final prices directly, the consequences are more significant. Last November, the currency's value against the US dollar hit 6.64, registering a rise of almost 3 percent YoY.
China suppliers offer three types in this category, varying in material and healing capability.
Despite the ongoing shift to upscale variants, traditional products such as absorbent cotton, gauzes and bandages continue to dominate exports. Combined, these account for 80 to 90 percent of the country's total overseas shipments in the line. China sent 75.9 million pieces abroad from January to August 2010, generating $418 million in sales. The volume rose by only 0.5 percent compared with the previous year, but value climbed by almost 5 percent.
Adhesive versions, however, are growing at a faster rate. Within the same period, exports of such products topped 10.6 million pieces at $95.6 million, registering 15 and 50 percent YoY growth, respectively.
Overall, the country's exports in the line account for 20 percent of the worldwide market. Manufacturers bank on a rich supply of domestic cotton, which has short fibers and less sugar, making the material suitable for medical use.
Polymeric dressings: These come in foam and film versions, with the latter available in PU, PE and PVC. Although permeable, the pieces are good at blocking bacteria, keeping the wound surface moist and preventing clinging to the skin.
Several releases are transparent, allowing for convenient monitoring of the injury. Some are adhesive. Prices range from $0.10 to $3.
Anti-bacterial dressings: The selection of wound care products that can kill bacteria comprises hydrogel, hydrocolloid, alginate and silver ion dressings.
These have chemicals to hasten recovery. Such versions are effective in absorbing and stopping exudates, including blood. The capacity is also greater, requiring fewer changes at longer intervals.
Alginate pieces, in particular, are considered environment-friendly because of their biodegradability. The prices are between $0.40 and $7, with some exceeding the latter.
Traditional pads: These are used to cover injuries for protection. The selection consists of cotton, gauzes and bandages.
The items have strong absorption characteristics, but are not very effective in keeping out bacteria and preventing infection. In addition, the dressings stick easily to the skin, causing pain to the patient during changing.
Such products, however, are very economical because they require inexpensive raw materials and simple processes. Absorbent cotton variants range from $0.10 to $4 per roll, weighing between 25 and 1,000g.
Gauzes in the same material go for $1.60 to $2 per roll, available in 10x100 and 20x100cm.
Model: Carbon Fiber Wound Dressing
Model: Nano Silver Wound Dressing
Model: Wound Dressing
Model: Gauze Swab
Note:This article was originally published by Global Sources, a leading business-to-business media company and a primary facilitator of trade with China manufacturers and India suppliers, providing essential sourcing information to volume buyers through our e-magazines, trade shows and industry research.
All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.
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