Guilin HBM Health Protection Ltd
Workers pack latex gloves at a workshop of Guilin HBM Health Protection Ltd in Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. [Provided to China Daily]
By 2024-end, several new health protection products of Guilin HBM Health Protection Ltd will have likely won over overseas clients as the firm is keen to stand out in a fiercely competitive market.
The privately held firm is based in Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. It is known for its condoms and medical gloves among other health protection products.
By 2022-end, the company wants to turn itself into a leading Chinese brand in terms of scale, reputation and technology, said Hu Zhiqiang, its general manager.
Condom production is not considered a technology-intensive industry. But Guilin HBM currently holds more than 50 national patents. It plans to increase its investment in research and development from 2 percent of the cost to 5 percent, according to Hu.
Since condoms can reduce the risk of exposure to AIDS-causing HIV, Guilin HBM began to focus on R&D in 2009 with the goal of making its products highly effective against HIV. "Ordinary condoms only prevent 97.4 percent of HIV penetration. Do not underestimate the failure rate of 2.6 percent," said Hu.
After a decade-long endeavor, the company developed a type of three-layered condom, whose production started last year. The product has a 99.7-percent barrier rate against AIDS, according to a test conducted at an institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
The breakthrough helped Guilin HBM gain a toehold in the tough global market. The company has a total production capacity of 600 million pieces each year, 400 million of which were exported to countries like France, Italy, Russia, the Netherlands and South Africa.
Overall in China, the annual output capacity is about 5 billion condoms, 20 percent of which are exported, according to data from the China Rubber Industry Association.
During the past two decades of Guilin HBM's overseas expansion, a notable milestone was its partnership with a South African firm. In 2017, the company assisted in constructing the Latex Industries SA, the African country's first modern plant for condom production.
Sibusiso Thembinkosi, legal representative of Latex Industries, said HIV/AIDS is a major challenge facing South Africa. With a population of 59 million, South Africa purchases about 1 billion male condoms and 40 million female condoms from the world each year, Thembinkosi said during a business trip to Guilin.
Condom production requires special equipment and technology, he said, adding that constrained by technology, South Africa had no modern condom factory before.