From being totally ignored and occupying an eternal place on the shelves of pharmacies and gondolas in supermarkets, the gel alcohol It became the most demanded and, at the same time, least found product in Argentina.
It was a niche product for daily hygiene, but it was largely forgotten by local consumers. And its popularity was surprising and due to the unfortunate coronavirus pandemic.
The demand was so great that the jars still available cost almost as a luxury or luxury product.. To such an extent that the Government had to go out to force manufacturers and businesses to roll back their prices to what they cost on March 6.
However, the shortage is almost total and its traditional manufacturers cannot cope because they do not have sufficient capacity to sustain demand, which is incessant and increasingly high simultaneously with the growth of the virus in the country.
In fact, only in March the demand multiplied by 10 being one of the most effective “remedies” to kill bacteria and fungi.
The main local alcohol gel manufacturer has 60% of the market share. This is the Cordovan company Porta Hnos, which is in the process of preventive bankruptcy and is famous for being the owner of the 1882 fernet brand.
But, with a liability close to $ 3,000 million, the company cannot maintain its supply levels of its product Bialcohol, the same thing that happens with the laboratory Elea Phoenix, from the Insud group of Hugo Sigman, another of the largest manufacturers of alcohol gel in the country.
Faced with this worrying situation and while waiting for the coronavirus to continue its upward course in the country, the Government began to outline a “war” strategy so that companies from other sectors can become not only momentary providers of gel alcohol but also of other medical supplies necessary to avoid contagion.
So far, the administration of Alberto Fernández managed that Important companies from sectors as different as the automotive, the winemaker and the biofuels come up with proposals to help in this critical moment of the pandemic.
The first sector that took over the post was that of the bioethanol producers and the main sugar mills in the country that offered to allocate part of their operations to increase the amount of alcohol that would allow, in part, to solve this lack.
This is because gel alcohol is made up of medicinal ethyl alcohol and glycerin, which in turn come from soybeans and corn, from where biofuels are produced.
In this framework, representatives of the Argentine Sugar Center (CAA), met last week with officials from the Ministry of Productive Development to analyze variants that allow them to help in this crisis.
Entrepreneurs offered to redirect part of their usual bioethanol production to make pharmaceutical-specified alcohol, the base input for gel alcohol.
The objective is to help normalize the supply of the product, which would require reducing the mandatory cut of bioethanol in fuels, which is currently set at 10% for biodiesel and 12% for bioethanol.
For now, several companies in this sector made unilateral contributions to the Government to try to alleviate the situation, as in the case of Ledesma group, who donated 2,500 liters of alcohol to the Jujuy Ministry of Health, in order to produce gel alcohol in the face of the health and epidemiological emergency decreed by the government.
Producers from Córdoba, San Luis and Santa Fe also donated 150,000 liters of the product to the respective provincial governments for the manufacture of alcohol gel.
Another example is that of the winery Chandon, owned by the French group LVMH, which He offered the government of Mendoza to allocate part of his vineyards in the town of Luján de Cuyo to produce 1,000 weekly alcohol gel.
The company seeks to make use of a resolution of the National Institute of Viticulture (INV) that allows the use of intervened wines, which due to technical deficiencies are not suitable for consumption but which, due to their high ethyl content, makes them ideal for the production of much-needed alcohol in gel.
In the sector it is assured that there is the possibility of making a free and beneficial distribution of almost four million bottles of alcohol gel from wines that arose due to volatile acidity above the established limit or greatly exaggerated characteristics of strange and unpleasant aromas and flavors .
In fact, the company has already started the procedures with the Ministry of Health of the province to start the production of this input in the winery with the aim of making donations to the main health centers in the province.
At first, There will be 1,000 bottles of 300ml of alcohol in gel as well as another 1,000 liters in bulk to be divided and to start production in the warehouse with a first delivery of 1,000 liters per week.
Another example of companies that are going to derive part of their productive capacities to the manufacture of instruments that help fight the coronavirus are those of the automotive company. Toyota and the auto part Mirgor.
For these hours, both companies offered the ministry led by Matías Kulfas help to combat the virus. In the case of the terminal of Japanese origin, it uses parts of its plant located in the Buenos Aires town of Zárate for the production of respirators that allow patients with coronavirus to be assisted.
The idea is to minimize dependence on imports as much as possible in order to obtain this medical equipment by assembling a highly useful metallic respiratory support to detect the virus.
But the possibility of producing mechanical respirators for people who have contracted the disease is also being evaluated.
In this case, Toyota will assemble an assembly line with parts that will provide the Mirgor auto partswhose core business It is usual to assemble on-board computers and air conditioning systems for cars.
In the area of beauty, the Brazilian cosmetics group was at the tip Nature that will temporarily modify all of its makeup and fragrance production lines in Latin America to manufacture hand sanitizer.
The company, which a few months ago closed the Avon purchase and became the fourth largest beauty products company in the world, thus joining a global trend by private companies to help in the battle against COVID-19.
But not only large groups are joining this initiative, but from the sector of the recovered companies and cooperatives They are also coming up with proposals to fight the virus.
An example is that of Savior Plastics, exOropel, whose operatives decided to keep the factory open to produce containers of alcohol in gel, more than anything to supply the demand of laboratories and private companies.
With this objective, they transformed their production since they usually manufacture containers for water, oil and pharmacies, in different volumes of between 10 and 500 milliliters.
Likewise, a gin distillery located in Coronel Vidal started manufacturing gel alcohol and has already reached 800 fermented liters that were donated to the towns of Mar Chiquita, Vivoratá and Coronel Vidal.
An example that is followed by another distillery, in this case located in Neuquén and which operates under the name of Patagonian Distillery, which until a few days ago made gin and vodka.
Its owners agreed with the provincial government to donate several thousand liters of alcohol, a product of its distillation chain, in addition to putting the distillery at the service of generating this product.
On an international level Bacardi It will produce hand sanitizers at its the world’s largest premium rum distillery located in Puerto Rico.
It will use the facilities of the plant located in the town of Cataño, where it produces more than 80% of its rum brands, to provide raw materials that will allow the production of more than 1.7 million units of gel alcohol.
Other similar cases occur in Brazil, where AmBev, the largest brewer in Latin America and owner in Argentina of Quilmes, which would modify one of its plants in the state of Rio de Janeiro to produce hand sanitizer.
Furthermore, its controller AB InBev began distributing 50,000 liters of disinfectant made with the alcohol that it withdraws from its beers without graduation to various European hospitals.
Meanwhile, the world’s largest manufacturer of distilled beverages, Diageo, owner of Johnny Walker or Baileys, will donate two million liters of neutral alcohol to make spirits to companies that make disinfectant gels.
In Germany, the liquor manufacturer Jägermeister He has promised to deliver 50,000 liters of alcohol to the Braunschweig Hospital Pharmacy to make these gels.
Even the popular Colombian singer Shakira He ordered his company to stop producing perfumes to make alcohol gel.
The singer resides with her husband Gerard Piqué and their children in Spain, one of the countries most affected by the coronavirus and which currently ranks second worldwide in the number of deaths only behind Italy.
In fact, in Europe there are many large groups that are following the same path, especially in the luxury industry, where companies such as Givenchy or Dior They will add to their exclusive perfumes the production of alcohol in gel.
Both brands are, like Chandon, owned by the LVMH holding company, and they also add the manufacture of masks to distribute for free in French hospitals, although they will extend the initiative to other countries, including Spain.
Also the Gallic group Pernod-Ricard, considered the second world consortium of spirits, donated 70,000 liters of pure alcohol to the French laboratory Cooper, the main distributor in national pharmacies for alcohol gel that has been exhausted in practically all French and Spanish establishments, where it has a plant in the Manzanares area.
In a document distributed a few days ago, the holding company assured that “it places its technical, human and production resources at the service of the authorities to produce hand gel.”
And that it will produce gel alcohol in all the countries where it owns distilleries, such as the Absolut Vodka plant in Sweden or the American Rabbit Hole (Kentucky), Smooth Ambler (West Virginia) and TX Whiskey (Texas).
Too The real wants to do its part. The French cosmetic giant launched this week a “European coronavirus solidarity plan” and in addition to increasing its production of gel alcohol, it will prioritize its distribution in hospitals and nursing homes.
Date published: Mar 30, 2020