The world’s largest beer and spirits companies have both announced they’ll be pivoting some of their production and logistics to produce millions of bottles of hand sanitizer around the world. The moves come as many brands look at ways to mobilize their extensive resources to help battle the global spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
Diageo, parent company of spirits brands ranging from Johnnie Walker to Smirnoff, today announced it will provide 2 million liters (about half a million gallons) of 96% alcoholic grain-neutral spirit to sanitizer manufacturers at no cost. That amount is enough to produce 8 million bottles of sanitizer at 250 milliliters each.
Anheuser-Busch—creator of Budweiser, Bud Light, Michelob Ultra and many other beer brands—is retooling its global manufacturing and distribution networks to create more than 1 million bottles of hand sanitizer that will be donated. Although the company doesn’t create distilled spirits, the sanitizer production was accomplished by shifting what it described as “existing technology for our non-alcohol brewing process.”
Both corporations said the sanitizer they’re producing at no charge will go to hospitals and frontline medical personnel, who have struggled worldwide to maintain adequate supplies of protective equipment as consumers stocked up on sanitizer, masks and other products.
“Healthcare workers are at the forefront of fighting this pandemic, and we are determined to do what we can to help protect them,” said Ivan Menezes, CEO of Diageo. “This is the quickest and most effective way for us to meet the surging demand for hand sanitizer around the world.”
Diageo and Anheuser-Busch aren’t the first alcohol companies to begin producing free sanitizer amid the COVID-19 outbreak, but they’re certainly the largest.
Delaware craft brewer Dogfish Head and many local breweries or distillers have been working to produce sanitizer for their communities and medical facilities. Tito’s Vodka says it’s currently testing a production change that will allow it to produce an initial run of 24 tons (about 6,500 gallons) of sanitizer in small bottles.
Here’s a breakdown of how the two massive global companies will be structuring their sanitizer production efforts:
• U.K. and Ireland: Providing 500,000 liters of grain-neutral spirits for national healthcare systems and workers.
• Italy: Supplying 100,000 liters of grain-neutral spirits to support the healthcare system and other national needs.
• U.S.: Providing 500,000 liters for local community needs.
• Brazil: Diageo’s Ypioca plant will produce 50,000 liters of grain-neutral spirit for the local healthcare system, in conjunction with the Ceara state government.
• Kenya: Diageo’s East Africa Breweries will enable production of 135,000 liters of sanitizer, prioritizing vulnerable and at-risk groups.
• India: Providing 500,000 liters of alcohol to supply to the sanitizer industry across 25 states, for use in national healthcare systems and for consumers.
• Australia: Diageo’s Bundaberg Distilling will produce 100,000 liters of ethanol for the Queensland government, to be directed to hand sanitizer manufacturers.
• Africa: Producing disinfectant alcohol, then using extensive fleet and route network of breweries to deliver the finished product to the most remote parts of the continent.
• Europe: Producing 50,000 liters of disinfectant alcohol as well as 26,000 bottles of hand sanitizer for donation to pharmacies and frontline workers across the region.
• Central America: Producing more than 400,000 bottles of hand sanitizer gel for donation to hospitals and local governments.
• North America: Producing and distributing bottles of hand sanitizer to accommodate growing needs across the United States and Canada.
• South America: Produced 500,000 bottles of hand sanitizer for hospitals in the most impacted areas, including Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia in Brazil.