SINGAPORE: In the world of party planning, balloons have long been a staple, but recent developments in the helium market are causing concerns for local balloon operators.

Over the past six months, global helium prices have surged, creating challenges for businesses relying on this essential gas for their inflatable products. Causing even more concern, experts say that helium may run out all over the world in as soon as 25 years.

Helium, which makes balloons float, has experienced a steep price increase, rising by 15% every three to six months. This surge has translated to more than three times the pre-pandemic price, affecting the bottom line for balloon operators. As a result, the cost of helium-filled balloons has seen a corresponding increase.

One gift shop proprietor told 8World that it was not until the third quarter of 2023 that they started to increase prices. Quarterly inspections revealed that helium balloon costs were unsustainable initially at $1.50, and prices had to be adjusted to $1.80 to offset the rising helium expenses.

In response to the helium shortage and rising costs, some entrepreneurs are exploring alternative methods and materials for their inflatable products.

One party supplies store told 8World that they use 40% to 60% helium and employ an inflation valve instead of filling balloons with 99.95% helium.

Additionally, manufacturers are researching materials to make balloons thinner and lighter, ensuring they maintain the same floating time with reduced helium.

These adjustments come amid concerns about the long-term sustainability of helium supplies.

Experts predict that helium, a limited resource found in the Earth’s crust, could face scarcity or potential depletion within the next 40 to 50 years, with some scientists suggesting a more urgent timeline of as soon as 25 years.

As balloon operators grapple with the helium shortage, they are diversifying their offerings by exploring alternative inflatable products and adopting innovative methods to adapt to the changing market dynamics.

The future of helium-dependent balloons remains uncertain, prompting businesses to prepare for potential helium scarcity in the years to come.