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Finnish beverage producers offer a helping hand against COVID-19

Olaf Brewing jumped from craft beer to hand sanitiser in a matter of days to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.Olaf Brewing

Finnish producers of alcoholic beverages have begun producing hand sanitiser to meet the rising global demand for hygiene products.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced companies around the world to adapt to rapid changes in consumer behaviour and disruptions in global value chains. Finnish distilleries Kyrö Distillery Company, Helsinki Distilling Company, along with Olaf Brewing, have responded quickly to the hand sanitiser shortage by shifting their production lines from spirits and craft beers. Altia, meanwhile, is producing large amounts of ethanol, which is a key ingredient in hand sanitiser.

Olaf Brewing announced a few weeks ago it has commenced sanitiser production after pondering the effects of the COVID-19 on society and its craft beer business.

“We quickly figured out the necessary permits and production process and have produced 30 000 bottles so far,” told Petteri Vänttinen, co-founder of Olaf Brewing.

Hand sanitisers consist of 60 to 95 per cent alcohol and can hence be produced with equipment and resources commonly found in distilleries and breweries. Vänttinen estimates that the Savonlinna-based brewery’s production will hit 300 000 bottles in the coming weeks.

Olaf’s goal is to help to save lives and guarantee the future of the brewery in Eastern Finland. On the other side of the country, Kyrö Distillery’s co-founder and marketing director, Mikko Koskinen, is on the same lines.

“Our intentions aren’t driven by profit but health concerns and a desire to keep our company afloat and keep paying our employees’ wages,” said Koskinen.

The idea has also been put to use globally, with the likes of luxury goods provider LVMH announcing the beginning of production to tackle the sanitiser shortage.

Kyrö Distillery Company will prioritise its sanitiser sales to first satisfy the demands of elderly homes and critical infrastructure companies. Image: Kyrö Distillery Company
By: Samuli Ojala