Mumbai: Led by market leader Diageo, the liquor industry is joining hands with state governments to fight the coronavirus pandemic by manufacturing and supplying hand sanitisers.
The coronavirus pandemic has led to a high demand for sanitisers as hand washing is an effective way to keep the infection away.
Liquor companies like Diageo and Radico Khaitan have decided to stop bottling alcohol at some of their plants and instead make hand sanitisers following an appeal by the government and a promise to give them the needed permits.
"We will support the government and the hospitality sector during this pandemic by manufacturing 3 lakh litres of bulk hand sanitisers from our 15 units across the country," Anand Kripalu, managing director and chief executive officer of Diageo India, said.
As part of the initiative, the company will also donate 5 lakh litres of ENA (Extra Neutral Alcohol), which is a key ingredient in making sanitisers, to the sanitiser industry, he said in a statement.
This amount of ENA can produce more than 2 million units (250 ml each) of hand sanitisers, he added.
Diageo is the country's largest liquor maker.
The country's second largest liquor maker Allied Blenders & Distillers, which produces the globally largest selling whiskey Officer's Choice, said it has not decided on manufacturing hand sanitisers since there is a tedious licensing process.
"We have not taken a final call on this. A liquor company cannot make something that needs a drug licence under the existing licence. Having said so, it does not mean we will not do our bit to help the nation," Deepak Roy, vice-chairman of ABD, told PTI over phone on Tuesday.
Smaller player Radico Khaitan said it would start producing sanitisers from its Rampur distillery and has already applied for necessary permissions. It has also chalked out distribution plans.
"Being a leading spirit manufacturer, we have decided to extend our support to the country in this worrisome time of the coronavirus outbreak," Radico Khaitan Chief Operating Officer Amar Sinha said in a statement.
"Radico Khaitan has kick-started expanding the use of ENA at its mother distillery in Rampur into production of hand sanitiser which will be available at retail stores in a few days," he added.
According to Kripalu, Diageo has also announced health insurance cover to on-trade partners and donation of free masks to government public health departments.
As part of this initiative, it is offering health insurance cover worth Rs 3 crore to bartenders and would also donate around 1,50,000 masks to the public health departments of five states.
An e-mail sent to the All India Distillers Association did not elicit a response on questions about other distillers' efforts towards making hand sanitisers.
Last week, FMCG leader HUL cut the prices of its handwash product and also promised to increase production to help alleviate supplies issues in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Beauty products maker VLCC has also started production of hand sanitisers.
Some liquor companies overseas are also in the process of making hand sanitisers.
"While we advise that you cannot use our standard vodka product as a hand sanitizer, our team at the distillery has been working hard to get all of the pieces in place to begin production on a hand sanitizer that adheres to industry and governmental guidance," American vodka maker Tito's said in a tweet on Sunday. PTI BEN RAM
Updated Date: Mar 25, 2020 08:59:51 IST