Alcohol ban has South African distilleries pivoting to a new product
Despite calls from provincial liquor boards and other parties in South Africa to ease the alcohol ban, the government is sticking to its original plan. For the time being, the lock will remain in place until at least the end of April.
“The sale, export, and even transportation of alcohol are expressly prohibited during the lockdown, and all restaurants and bars have been expressly ordered to close,” said Lorna Scott, founder and CEO of Inverroche Gin. “Our entire industry stopped overnight. Short-term and long-term budgets have lost all meaning.”
Inverroche Gin is one of the most successful and recognized brands of artisanal gin in South Africa, considered to be the pioneers of the craze for artisanal gin that has taken the country’s liquor industry by storm. Located in the seaside town of Stilbaai in the Western Cape, they are among a handful of local distilleries that have temporarily signed up as an essential service for making disinfectants – pivoting to an entirely new product, for now.
Usually her license authorizes the company to make only spirits, so she had to get a special government waiver to use her current stock of alcohol for the disinfectant. The South African Revenue Service also came on board, removing excise duties on the consumption of alcoholic beverages. And so, working with a skeleton team, under very strict regulations, Inverroche Gin started to make disinfectant.
Another famous South African brand, Distell, which makes several types of alcohol, including whiskey and brandy, has also committed 100,000 liters of alcohol to make a sanitizer.
But, these products are not made to sell; instead, they are donated to vulnerable communities across South Africa.
“Inverroche is committed to producing hand sanitizers, in bulk and free of charge, based on the WHO recipe and using our base alcohol which was intended for the production of our gin, for workers in front line, “Scott told CNN. “(We are) a key driver of economic growth in our local municipality and this initiative allows us to stay in touch with the very people who have always supported us. This creates a sense of purpose for our own staff, and a trust and a confidence in our organization that we will weather this storm. ”
“It can’t be business as usual,” says Scott. “To keep your business alive, you need to adapt to a new set of values and a new business model that recognizes and prioritizes sustainable practices, and that embraces social and environmental responsibility.”