Buckinghamshire distillery makes hand sanitiser out of honey

Oscar Williams-GrutSenior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
Yahoo Finance UK
This photo illustration shows bottles of Purell hand sanitizers on March 5, 2020 in Washington, DC. (NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
This photo illustration shows bottles of Purell hand sanitizers on March 5, 2020 in Washington, DC. (NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

A small Buckinghamshire distillery that usually makes gin and vodka out of honey has begun making hand sanitiser amid a global shortage — highlighting how businesses both great and small are throwing their weight behind efforts to fight Covid-19.

The British Honey Company said on Tuesday it had been given the green light by UK tax authorities to use its spare capacity for producing hand sanitiser ingredients. The British Honey Company’s distillery in Worminghall, Buckinghamshire, will now start producing hand sanitiser out of 70% alcohol and extracts of British honey and green tea.

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Michael Williams, chief executive of the British Honey Company, said the effort “enhances our existing business model at the same time as assisting with the efforts to combat the spread of Covid-19.”

Read more: Pubs and venues warn of 'crippling blow' as public urged to stay away

“An alcohol based sanitiser is vodka or gin at 70 % ABV made from denatured alcohol,” Williams said in a statement.

“Following approval of our application to HMRC to produce denatured alcohol, our expert distillery team have been working alongside our in-house microbiologist and an Oxford University chemist to develop and manufacture this new product.”

The move comes amid a global shortage of hand sanitiser, caused by stockpiling and increased usage. Sales in the UK surged 225% in February, before Covid-19 had even hit Britain in earnest.

LVMH, the French luxury giant that owns brands like Louis Vuitton, said on Monday it would switch production at all of its cosmetics and perfume factories to start producing hand sanitiser instead. The product will be supplied to French authorities battling to control the outbreak.

Read more: Follow live updates on the coronavirus pandemic

The British government has urged UK businesses to support efforts to fight Covid-19.

The government has set up a special hotline for manufacturers willing to make extra ventilators and approached car manufacturers about turning UK factories into ventilator production lines.

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