Australian manufacturers heed the call for hand sanitiser supply
24 March 2020, Written by David Simmons
One of the most in-demand products during the Covid-19 pandemic has been hand sanitiser.
While we are regularly told there is enough supply of the stuff to go around for us all, that hasn't stopped panic buyers from purchasing hand sanitiser in bulk, leaving supermarkets with no supply but heightened demand.
Australian manufacturers have responded to this issue by increasing local supply of the product or pivoting entire businesses to keep Australians safe and healthy.
Ego Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of Aqium sanitiser, has ramped up production at its factory in Melbourne according to managing director Alan Oppenheim.
"In February we made five times what we forecast and our factory is now running 24 hours a day, five days a week," says Oppenheim.
"We're currently hiring to increase that to six days a week and we've stopped our little bit of exporting to prioritise Australian needs."
Production of raw ingredients necessary for the manufacture of hand sanitiser is also on the rise.
For example, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews says Manildra Group, a leading Australian producer of ethanol, is working around the clock to meet demand.
"Our large ethanol producers have indicated they have capacity to make more pharmaceutical grade ethanol as needed," says Andrews.
"We have been helping to connect these producers with our hand sanitiser manufacturers, and manufacturers are already placing new and increased orders."
Distillers clean up with sanitiser production
Three major Australian alcohol producers have pivoted to producing hand sanitiser in order to meet increased demand.
In Queensland Beenleigh Rum Distillery and Bundaberg Rum Distillery are focusing on the production of ethanol and hand sanitiser immediately, using existing production lines and staff.
Australia's oldest distillery Beenleigh Rum will commence the production of hand sanitiser this week with an aim to supply Queensland's schools and frontline workers with the essential product.
Beloved Queensland brand Bundaberg Rum will be producing ethanol and will donate 100,000 litres, enough to produce around 500,000 bottles, to the Queensland Government.
"Bundaberg Rum is a Queensland icon, we've felt the love of Australians since our distillery was first established more than 130 years ago in 1888," says managing director of Bundaberg Rum's parent company Diageo Australia David Smith.
"At a time like this we will always step up and contribute when Australians need it most."
A Sydney-based distiller is taking a different approach with its solution to the hand sanitiser demand problem.
Archie Rose Distilling Co., known for its bespoke and diverse range of whiskies, gins, vodkas and rums, has produced its own brand of hand sanitiser that customers can grab for $20 a bottle.
This is no regular hand sanitiser though; while the product follows the World Health Organisation's guidelines for effective and safe sanitiser Archie Rose's blend features natural grapefruit, cassia, cardamom and thyme botanical distillates.
Archie Rose's team, impacted by the forced shutdown of all bars in NSW, has reallocated its entire spirits production capacity to making hand sanitiser in order to aid the national effort against the spread of Covid-19.
Those hungry for something a little bit more upmarket have already cleared out stock of Archie Rose's hand sanitiser online, with 4,500 500ml bottles already sold out in pre-sale.
"I'm incredibly proud of our team for having turned around this product from concept to launch in under 10 days, and we will continue to produce sanitiser for as long as we can, or as long as is required," says Archie Rose founder Will Edwards.
"We will also be redeploying as many of our full time bar staff as possible who have been stood down as a result of the forced shutdown of all bars, to assist in filling, packaging and shipping the product."
Though production of hand sanitiser around the country has ramped up, Minister Andrews has encouraged Australians to refrain from panic buying and hoarding the essential product.
"I want to stress to Australians that we have the capacity and the raw ingredients here to continue to meet the increased demand," says Minister Andrews.
"Industry, with the help of government, is stepping up to meet the challenges being thrown at us by this virus.
"We also need the community to play their part by not stockpiling. There is no need for people to have huge volumes of hand sanitiser at home."
Business News Australia
Author: David Simmons