Big and small liquor firms producing hand sanitizers amid coronavirus pandemic

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With the coronavirus creating panic all around with 23028 deaths worldwide, the precautions are being taken in a stringent manner. The use of masks and sanitizers is emptying the shelves of the departmental stores, because of which, according to Beverage Industry, Spirit makers are producing branded hand sanitizers that they are donating.

State governments have also been asked to give permission to distilleries on a priority basis to produce sanitizer in bulk, which can then be packed and bottled. The hand sanitizer companies are unable to meet the flooding demand due to inadequate supply of ethanol.

India currently has an ethanol production capacity of 3.5bn liters/year, as per official records. The Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) and All India Distiller Association (AIDA) have taken up the responsibility of supplying adequate ethanol for the production of sanitizers to meet the rising demand.

Big companies like Pernod Ricard and Diageo are taking strong steps toward offering alcohol for the production of hand sanitizers. Also, the Brazil-based Ambev SA said it will produce half a million sanitizers using one of its breweries.

Deepak Roy, executive vice chairman of Allied Blenders and Distillers that makes Officer’s Choice whiskey, said, “While we do not have the skillset to make the product, we are examining the request since it has come from the central government. Even if we decide not to make sanitizers, we will supply alcohol on priority to nearby ancillaries in the business.”

Radico Khaitan, the parent company of 8 PM whiskey and Magic Moments Vodka said it will expand the use of Extra Neutral Alchohol (ENA) at its mother distillery in Rampur into the production of hand sanitizer. “We have already applied for the necessary permissions and chalked out the distribution plan,” the company said in a media statement. The product will be available at retail stores over the next few days.

Hand sanitizers were brought under the Essential Commodities Act on 19 March to put a stop to stockpile and also capped prices at Rs 100 for a 200 ml bottle until 30 June.