Belgium/UK/USA: AB InBev and Diageo produce hand sanitizers

The world’s largest producers of beer and spirits, AB InBev and Diageo, announced today to donate million liters of alcohol to make hand sanitizers and disinfectants to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Diageo said in a media release that the company “will provide Grain Neutral Spirit (GNS) – a 96% strength ethyl alcohol used primarily in production of vodka and gin – and make it available at no cost to hand sanitizer producers in multiple countries, to help overcome shortages in healthcare systems. This donation will enable the production of more than eight million 250ml bottles of hand sanitizer.” The plan includes donations for national healthcare systems and workers across the UK, Ireland, Italy, USA, Brazil, Kenya, India and Australia.

“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, Chief Executive of Diageo. “This is the quickest and most effective way for us to meet the surging demand for hand sanitizer around the world.”

AB InBev, the world’s largest brewer also does not want to stand back in times when help is needed. “We’ve converted the surplus alcohol from our no-alcohol beers into 50.000 liters of ready-to-use disinfectant to donate to hospitals across Europe. We also have 26.000 bottles of hand sanitizers and a selection of no alcohol beers to give out over the coming weeks to key workers who have been keeping us all going,” Bart Grieten, Vice President Supply Europe at AB InBev said in a message on LinkedIn.

Labatt Breweries of Canada, the Canadian branch of AB InBev, also announced today to mobilizing its Canadian Disaster Relief Program. The company said it is “in the process of shifting production from beer to hand sanitizer across the country in support of the national effort to combat the spread of COVID-19. Initial production will result in 50,000 bottles of hand sanitizer that will be donated to support Food Banks Canada, front line workers and partners in the restaurant and bar industry who are playing a critical role in serving take-out meals in a time of need.“ Food Banks Canada is a national charitable organization dedicated “to relieve hunger today and prevent hunger tomorrow.”

Already last Tuesday, Ambev, the Brazilian subsidiary of AB InBev, said in a statement that it plans to deliver 5,000 sanitizer gel bottles to every public hospital in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia, where most of the country's coronavirus cases are concentrated.

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) in the United States has relaxed regulations to allow beverage distillers to make denatured alcohol, a byproduct of the brewing process. Distillers will be permitted to do so without the usual required permit through June 30.

Some smaller breweries have already used this new regulation to produce corresponding products like hand sanitizers. Amongst others those include Dogfish Head Brewery from Milton, Delaware, Yellowhammer Brewing from Huntsville, Alabama; 3 Daughters Brewing from St.Petersburg, Florida; Valentine Distilling Co. and Griffin Claw Brewing Co from Ferndale and Birmingham, Michigan; Motorworks Brewing and Dark Door Spirits from Bradenton and Tampa, Florida; Lazy Magnolia Brewing from Kiln, Mississippi; Dirty Water Distillery from Plymouth, Massachusetts; and Lexington Brewing & Distilling Co from Lexington, Kentucky.

Last but not least, the self-acclaimed Scottish “punk-brewer” BrewDog announced last week to make “Punk Sanitiser”, a hand sanitizer which the comnpany “gives away to those who need it,” according to BrewDog co-founder James Watt.

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