NEW DELHI : The humble hand sanitizer has turned in to a highly prized possession overnight as shoppers stock up on personal hygiene products amid the deadly Coronavirus outbreak. Fast moving goods companies aside, liquor companies are stepping in, offering to use their supply of extra neutral alcohol (ENA)—a key raw material derived from sugar molasses and grain, and used to make sanitizers, as well as spirits—to make bottles of sanitizers amid a growing demand and a clear shortage of personal hygiene products in the market.

On Sunday, Radio Khaitan that makes 8 PM whisky and Magic Moments Vodka said it will expand the use of Extra Neutral Alchohol (ENA) at its mother distillery in Rampur into the production of hand sanitizer. "We have already applied for the necessary permissions and chalked out the distribution plan," the company said in a media statement. The product will be available at retail stores over the next few days.

Last week, a Goa based brewery, Goa Brewing Co., said it will offer free hand sanitizer refills to health care workers and villages in the area. "We are making these non-conformist sanitizers available at a nominal cost to fight the shortage. Our Brewing team is making them using WHO guideline. For our tribe in Goa, if you carry own bottle you can take a free refill from our brewery," it said on its Twitter handle on March 18.

The company's co-founder, Ashtavinayak Paradh, told online news website, The Print that the company has tied up with a Pune-based chemical manufacturer to buy bulk quantities of the product.

"There is a huge shortage of hand sanitisers in Goa right now because of the coronavirus pandemic. There are lots of other herbal, organic variants in the markets across the country. But the hand sanitiser refills we are providing contain 70 per cent alcohol, which is the ideal formula," he told The Print.

Sales of hand sanitizers, disinfectants, germ-killing soaps, and home cleaning products have surged over the past few weeks as consumers take precautionary measures to protect themselves from the highly contagious coronavirus.

Mint earlier reported that several cities—where fresh cases of Covid-19 emerged—were seeing a shortage of hand sanitisers.

Moreover, the government pronounced hand sanitizers and masks as essential commodities to ensure steady availability, and prevent the hoarding and black marketing of such products. Later, the government also placed price caps on sanitizers to make them more affordable and prevent companies and retailers from profiteering from them.

Prices of alcohols used in manufacturing of hand sanitizers have also been capped.

Consumer goods makers are also capitalizing on the heightened consumer demand for such products.

Last week, packaged consumer goods major Dabur India Ltd announced the launch of a hand sanitizer—Dabur Sanitize—that will be initially available across e-commerce platforms. The company will subsequently extend the brand to modern retail and offline stores over the next few days.

Moreover, in an announcement on Friday, Hindustan Unilever Ltd announced a 15% drop in the price of its Lifebuoy brand of sanitizer. On Sunday, Godrej Consumer Products Ltd (GCPL) slashed the price of its Godrej protekt sanitizer (50 ml bottle) from 75 to 25 with immediate effect.

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