With 90% of the world’s vaping hardware produced in China, Australian stockpiles are dwindling and retailers and distributors alike are concerned. While some have already run out of certain items, others are fearing that they only have enough supplies to last a few weeks. “We’re feeling the pinch on our more popular devices,” said Chris Monchgesang, the chief operating officer for Vape Traders, a major distributor. “It hasn’t been the most enjoyable time.”

Since China’s annual 15-day public holiday for the Lunar New Year, local governments have began sealing off villages and mandating 14-day quarantines for anyone who travels. This means that many of China’s 300 million migrant workers cannot return to work.

The virus will affect the global industry

The vape shortage is just one example of what’s been described as the ‘second wave’ of economic chaos of the coronavirus outbreak, and it is disrupting business trade on a global level. The first wave naturally affected mostly the tourism and aviation industry.

Monchgesang pointed out that the next most plausible step for the Australian industry would be to start importing from the US and the UK. “It all depends whether or not coronavirus starts to peter out or continues on. Importing from US and UK markets, which have much larger stockpiles of hardware, is the last go-to option. But they’re running low and at some point they’re going to run out.”

“It all depends whether or not coronavirus starts to peter out or continues on. Importing from US and UK markets, which have much larger stockpiles of hardware, is the last go-to option. But they’re running low and at some point they’re going to run out.”Chris Monchgesang, COO, Vape Traders

He added that most e-liquids are produced in the US and therefore the supply should be unaffected, however, vape coils and pods are running out quickly. To this effect, a US wholesale vape supplier has also told customers they are expecting “a major national shortage on coils and hardware” between late February and early April.

China’s vaping industry was already struggling

Meanwhile, as a result of stricter e-cig regulations implemented in 2019, China’s vaping industry was already struggling prior to the virus outbreak and had laid off about 50,000 people, which equates to roughly 10% of its workforce.

The estimates were revealed by the Electronic Cigarette Industry Committee, and the association’s secretary Ao Weinuo, who said that the combination of the media scrutiny in the US, and online e-cig sales ban in China have caused the demand for the products to drop.

The trade association’s chair and founder of vape company Sigilei, Ou Junbiao, said that his company has to reduce their number of employees by half.

Similarly, an article on OAN had explained that factories (which at the moment are closed for quarantine purposes) in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, where approximately 90% of the world’s e-cigarettes are made by a workforce of approximately 500,000 people, had already had to slow production prior to the outbreak and let significant numbers of staff go.

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