Offering a Helping Hand (Sanitizer)

Rachel Carter

Rachel Carter

March 26, 2020

Ever since officials announced the first U.S. case of COVID-19, shoppers have cleared shelves of hand sanitizer – some stocking up for personal use, others buying out stores to resell the product online (which has backfired, but that’s a different story).

The FDA recently issued new guidance on its hand sanitizer policy, saying it would not pursue action against any manufacturer for making hand sanitizer during the ongoing coronavirus public health emergency.

But even before the FDA’s announcement, cosmetics giants, luxury perfumers, chemical manufacturers, distilleries – and now even cannabis companies – around the world had already begun shifting their production away from perfumes, petrochemicals, lotions, vodka and gin to making hand sanitizer.

From major, multinational conglomerates to small, local distilleries, companies that can do little else during this global pandemic are pivoting their production to help fight the outbreak.

With the recently launched IMPACT report that focuses on the COVID-19 pandemic, Industry Intelligence captures valuable lessons and best practices from a range of companies for business executives who need relevant information at their fingertips.

Safety Before Beauty

LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton was the first major company to announce that it would begin to make hand sanitizer at all its perfume and cosmetics factories in France. LVMH, which produces Christian Dior, Givenchy and Guerlain luxury fragrances, said it would donate the hand sanitizer to French health authorities to distribute to 39 public hospitals in the region.

L’Oréal quickly followed suit, announcing that it would manufacture “significant quantities” of hand sanitizer at its factories to support French and European health authorities. L’Oréal will supply La Roche-Posay-branded gels to hospitals, nursing homes and pharmacies and Garnier hand sanitizer to food retailers to help protect employees who are working during the nationwide lockdowns.

Other major beauty and personal-care players have announced similar plans: Coty, Beiersdorf, and Hermès are all shifting production at their factories to make hand sanitizer. Coty is making it at facilities in the U.S. and Monaco – and will soon ramp up more factories – while Beiersdorf plans to make 500 tons of medical hand sanitizer at its plants in Germany and Spain, all to donate to health-care workers.

Estée Lauder and L’Occitane are among the most recent to dedicate production capacity to hand sanitizer. Estée Lauder is reopening its factory in Melville, New York, this week to make the product for frontline medical personnel. L’Occitane reassigned some capacity at its Manosque facility in France, which manufactures beauty and well-being products, to instead make 70,000 liters of hand sanitizer that the company will donate to health authorities and health-care workers in France.

Niche perfume houses are also making sanitizers, which the companies either sell or include as a gift with purchase. Ormonde Jayne, 4160 Tuesdays, Exaltatum and Sarah Baker in the U.K. and Kamila Aubre in Belgium have begun small-scale production of hand sanitizers. In the U.S., RX Los Angeles is ramping up production of its hand sanitizer, and January Scent Project is giving away soaps.

Distilling Disinfectants

When hand sanitizer became a hot commodity in short supply, social media was rife with people using vodka, gin or other drinking alcohol to make their own sanitizer gels – which isn’t really effective. Tito’s Homemade Vodka even issued a warning that its vodka cannot be used as a replacement for disinfectant because the alcohol content is lower than CDC requirements for hand sanitizer.

However, distillers and breweries can make hand sanitizers, and many have turned their alcohol expertise away from crafting vodka, gin and rum to bottling alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

Wine and spirits maker Pernod Ricard is producing hand sanitizer at all its U.S. distilleries and manufacturing sites. The company will donate the hand sanitizer and is working with the U.S. government on plans to distribute it.

Barcardi also announced it would shift production at its distillery in Puerto Rico – where the company makes more than 80% of its rums – to supply ethanol to Olein Refinery in order to produce 1.7 million units of 10-ounce, 70% alcohol hand sanitizers. The companies will donate 500,000 bottles of hand sanitizer to local communities, including to firefighters, police, postal workers and nonprofit organizations. 

Diageo, the distiller behind Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal, Smirnoff and Captain Morgan, is also doing its part. The company will donate nearly 2 million liters of grain neutral spirit – a 96% strength ethyl alcohol used primarily to make vodka and gin – to hand sanitizer producers in the U.S., U.K., Ireland, Italy, Brazil, Kenya, India and Australia. Diageo’s donation is enough to produce more than 8 million bottles of hand sanitizer, which will help tackle sanitizer shortages in those countries. 

Anheuser-Busch also announced it will use its supply and logistics network to produce and distribute bottles of hand sanitizer across the U.S. 

But it’s not just the big dogs. Artisan and indie distillers around the globe are doing the same. Small-batch distilleries in the U.S., U.K., Ireland and Canada – pretty much everywhere – are using their alcohol supplies to make small-batch hand sanitizer. Many are donating the sanitizer to local health-care professionals, health organizations and emergency personnel.

From Kansas City, Missouri, to Geelong, Australia, distilleries that have been forced to shut down because of the pandemic – or whose business has suffered because of it – say making hand sanitizer has allowed them to stay afloat and to keep paying their staff.

Like the U.S., the U.K, has temporarily changed its rules to allow distillers to produce hand sanitizer, and British Columbia also just announced that it would temporarily allow distillers to make alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Chemical Cleanliness

Chemical companies are among the many industries that have shifted production into lifesaving products during the pandemic.

Petrochemical company Ineos isn’t repurposing an existing factory; it’s building a new one – two new ones, actually. Ineos plans to build a factory in the U.K. and one in Germany, and each will produce 1 million bottles of hand sanitizer per month.

Dow began manufacturing hand sanitizer at its factory in Stade, Germany, and is also “rapidly repurposing” an existing facility in the U.S. to produce hand sanitizer. Dow said it would provide more information about the U.S. site soon, but the German site will produce 300 tons of hand sanitizer a month to donate to regional pharmacies and hospitals.

Firmenich, a Swiss perfume and flavor maker, is adapting its manufacturing sites in Geneva to produce 20 tons of hand sanitizer that it will donate to Geneva University Hospital and other medical and emergency services. 

BASF is starting hand sanitizer production at its Ludwigshafen petrochemicals hub in Germany and plans to give the sanitizer to hospitals in the region. French chemical company Arkema repurposed a production line at its facility near Lyon, France, to make 20 tons of alcohol-based sanitizer per week that it will distribute free of charge to public hospitals in France.

Specialty chemicals company Huntsman will also produce about 50 tons of hand sanitizer at its manufacturing site in Monthey, Switzerland, and will donate it to hospitals and pharmacies.

Cannabis Sanitizer?

A cannabis manufacturer in California has even begun making hand sanitizer. CannaCraft, which makes cannabis and CBD products, converted a portion of its manufacturing space to produce and package roughly 5,000 1-ounce bottles of hand sanitizer. The company said it will donate the hand sanitizer to nonprofits, customers, employees and essential businesses throughout California.

Hemp-products company SinglePoint also launched Klen Hands, a hand sanitizer formulated with 62% ethyl alcohol and hemp seed oil. The company already had a manufacturing facility making other CBD/hemp products and already had the relationships to quickly get supplies, so “this product is the right time and the right place,” SinglePoint’s CEO said.

Industry Intelligence is here to help you 

Since the COVID-19 situation changes daily and rapidly, the stability of the world economy hinges not only on swift action by governmental bodies, but also on smart decisions made by business executives. With Industry Intelligence’s coronavirus IMPACT daily report, we help you track how companies around the world and across sectors put their expertise to use in ways that meet critical demand.

Rachel Carter is the Personal Care and Sustainability editor at Industry Intelligence. We invite you to take a look at our online services. Please contact us at and ask us about our coronavirus IMPACT report.  

* All content is copyrighted by Industry Intelligence, or the original respective author or source. You may not recirculate, redistrubte or publish the analysis and presentation included in the service without Industry Intelligence's prior written consent. Please review our terms of use.


About Us

We deliver market news & information relevant to your business.

We monitor all your market drivers.

We aggregate, curate, filter and map your specific needs.

We deliver the right information to the right person at the right time.

Our Contacts

1990 S Bundy Dr. Suite #380,
Los Angeles, CA 90025

+1 (310) 553 0008

About Cookies On This Site

We collect data, including through use of cookies and similar technology ("cookies") that enchance the online experience. By clicking "I agree", you agree to our cookies, agree to bound by our Terms of Use, and acknowledge our Privacy Policy. For more information on our data practices and how to exercise your privacy rights, please see our Privacy Policy.