BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI.BR), the world’s biggest beer maker, and Diageo, the world’s largest distiller, pledged on Monday to donate million litres of alcohol to make hand sanitisers and disinfectants to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Diageo said it would donate 2 million litres of grain neutral spirit - a 96% ethyl alcohol used mainly for vodka and gin - to help manufacturers make more than 8 million 250 ml bottles of sanitisers that are in short supply in countries worst hit by coronavirus. The maker of Johnnie Walker whisky and Tanqueray gin said the bottles would be supplied to healthcare systems and workers, vulnerable communities and at-risk groups in Australia, Brazil, Britain, Kenya, India, Ireland, Italy and the United States.
“This is the quickest and most effective way for us to meet the surging demand for hand sanitiser around the world,” Chief Executive Officer Ivan Menezes said in a statement.Separately, Budweiser maker AB InBev said it will start shipping some 50,000 litres of disinfectant made with alcohol removed from its alcohol-free beers for use in hospitals in several European countries from Wednesday.
Shipments of 5-litre containers will likely be sent to Belgium, Britain, France, Italy and the Netherlands, the company said, adding that it had already produced 26,000 bottles of hand sanitisers for pharmacies and health sector workers as well as 1,000 Beck’s bottles of disinfectant for German businesses.
The surge in hand sanitisers made with alcohol from distilleries comes after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced last week that it would allow some facilities and licensed professionals to make the product as long as they follow certain protocols.
Jameson whisky maker Pernod Ricard (PERP.PA) was one of the first major distillers to announce it was producing and donating alcohol, with 70,000 litres destined for hydroalcoholic gel.
Consumer product companies including Nivea-maker Beiersdorf (BEIG.DE) and French luxury goods maker LVMH (LVMH.PA) have joined the fight against COVID-19. LVMH has repurposed factories to make sanitisers and promised the French government it would source 40 million face masks from a Chinese supplier.
Reporting by Siddharth Cavale and Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Barbara Lewis and David Clarke