Condom manufacturers have problems despite buying hamsters – why?

The corona crisis hits German condom manufacturers: the pandemic initially caused sales to rise. However, prostitution has completely lost an important market.

At the beginning of the Corona crisis, the Germans not only stocked up with toilet paper and pasta, but also with condoms. The condom manufacturer Ritex from Bielefeld, for example, reported double sales in March compared to the same month in the previous year.

Was it just hamster purchases or did couples have sex more often because they spent more time at home due to the corona? And do singles refrain from making intimate appointments because of the distance rule? There are no studies on this yet, but the sales figures of the three manufacturers in Germany provide some information.

In Sarstedt south of Hanover, production at CPR runs around the clock, around eight condoms are produced every second. A total of 7,000 glass molds are dipped in liquid rubber, the latex film settles on the glasses and becomes firm. Finally, the rubbers are brushed off, washed and packaged.

Prostitution accounts for a significant share of the condom market

The company produces its own brands for drugstore and food markets and has its own online shop. “Since Corona we have noticed an increased demand, but prostitution has completely disappeared,” reports CPR Managing Director Michael Kesselring. According to him, sex on sale makes up around 20 percent of the condom market in Germany. He currently sees no delivery difficulties for the German market.

In contrast, the production facilities in Asia could face problems due to the corona pandemic. “The main production there is for development aid.”

Kesselring founded his company in 1987. At the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, condoms were the “product of the hour” like mouth guards or disinfectants today. Business is now more difficult, according to Kesselring, large growth rates cannot be achieved.

CPR has been insolvent for almost a year. This is a banking problem that will be resolved promptly, says the 57-year-old. CPR also has a plant in Erfurt and one in Honduras in Central America. There is no end to the shutdown in sight in Honduras.

Hamster purchases at the start of the pandemic

According to Ritex managing director Robert Richter, a quarter of condoms nationwide are used in prostitution. However, the Ritex brand is predominantly active in retail and has buyers from the mid-20s who tend to be in fixed partnerships. These would most likely have made stock purchases at the beginning of the crisis. “I suspect that couples in solid partnerships also had more sex, otherwise the sales figures would have to collapse now,” says the 39-year-old. According to Richter, however, they are still in the single-digit range above the previous month.

The Mapa company produces the Billy Boy brand in Zeven between Bremen and Hamburg. It assumes hamster purchases at the beginning of the pandemic, which were followed by lower sales due to the lockdown. It is now said that everything is leveling off again in the usual regions.

According to a representative study by the Federal Center for Health Education on Contraception in 2018, 47 percent of sexually active women and men use the pill, 46 percent use the condom. Seven years earlier, only 37 percent named the condom. According to the study, especially under 30-year-olds are increasingly critical of hormonal contraceptive methods. Protection of sexually transmitted infections is also important for the condom.

“We can work very efficiently”

“Condom use has become normal and is seen as a sign of responsibility,” says Richter. The labor and production costs in Germany are high, but the high degree of automation helps. “We can work very efficiently.” According to Richter, “Made in Germany” also speaks for Germany.

Condoms are medical devices. “The problem with online trading is that a lot of goods, some of them of low quality, are entering Germany from the Far East,” says the Ritex boss. You should stay away from suspiciously cheap products.

Germans invented the latex condom

CPR claims to be the largest condom manufacturer in Europe before Ritex and Mapa. Germany as a location has historical reasons.

An American, Charles Goodyear, developed the vulcanization process, invented the car tire and made the first rubber condom. However, Julius Fromm from Berlin perfected the process at the beginning of the 20th century and created the latex condom. The Jewish manufacturer, who was harassed by the National Socialists, had to sell his company to the godmother Hermann Görings, far below its value, and emigrated to London in 1938.

Ecologically sustainable and vegan condoms are the trend today – this may have been promoted by the Berlin start-up Einhorn. Other manufacturers now also offer condoms in which the natural rubber plantations are certified by the FSC organization, i.e. meet high social and ecological standards.


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