Condom use across country ballooning

By Yu Tianyu (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-12-02 07:16

With Chinese people becoming increasingly interested in healthy lifestyles and sexual taboos disappearing, condoms have been flying off the shelves nationwide.

Su Ding, a saleswoman at a Beijing branch of the Watsons pharmacy chain, said: "Several years ago, when consumers were selecting condoms, they did it in a most covert way. Now, there are couples overtly selecting condoms together."

When the outlet started selling a Durex condom that included a vibration ring at a cost of about 60 yuan, dozens of them sold in the first hour, she said.

Tao Ran, deputy director of the China Rubber Industry Association and president of Gobon Latex Products Manufactory, based in Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, said: "The condom market in China is booming. The country is expected to produce more than six billion condoms in 2009."

Some 4.7 billion were produced in 2005.

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As China's largest condom maker, Gobon expects to produce more than 710 million this year. Around half will be exported to Europe, the US and Africa.

Tao said the government buys around 30 percent of the company's output.

In total, the government bought more than 1.7 billion condoms in 2006 for subsequent free distribution.

China's condom market was worth six billion yuan in 2006 and is likely to pass 30 billion yuan by 2010.

In 2006, Chinese consumers bought around two billion condoms and the country was ranked fourth worldwide following the UK, the US and Japan.

Since then, the number of condoms sold each year has grown by 15 percent.

Across the nation, around 120 condom manufacturers produce around 2,000 brands.

James Tang, CEO of Jissbon Corp, said the company expects to sell 25 percent more this year.

Wen Jingfeng, founder and president of Beijing Adam and Eve Health Center, said: "In China, the condom has become a combination of medical product and consumer good."

Condoms have also become more readily available in recent years.

A family-planning officer surnamed Gao with the Xiaoguan Sub-district Office in Beijing's Chaoyang district, said: "The number of free condoms we provide in the community keeps growing because more residents with different incomes and backgrounds are becoming willing to use condoms."

In addition to contraception pressures, Chinese people have been reacting to the steadily growing number of HIV/AIDS cases.

According to Health Minister Chen Zhu, China will have an estimated 740,000 people on the mainland living with HIV/AIDS by the end of 2009.