The British Honey Company has made £500,000 by adapting its spirits distillery business to include alcohol sanitiser, joining Diageo and Bacardi and others. The company said that the revenue from its alcohol-based sanitiser, which was launched at the end of March, has more than offset the decline from the core product.

As Covid-19 spread, lockdowns closed many of the channels that local spirits products would typically be sold through. Bars, pubs and clubs were closed, as were many specialist shops. Most consumers drink alcohol at social occasions, meaning that social distancing and the closure of many former drinking locations and the reduction of social occasions has resulted in a severe impact for spirits makers and distillers.

In addition, unemployment is spiking, meaning that people will have less disposable income to spend on alcohol for consuming at home. Indeed, in week six of GlobalData’s Covid-19 tracker consumer survey, it was found that a surprising 13% of global consumers have stopped buying alcoholic drinks because it was beyond their shopping budget.

In addition, the panic buying of hand sanitiser has resulted in a shortage in supermarkets and pharmacies. The British Honey Company responded by ring-fencing alcohol in its warehouse to meet anticipated demand for alcohol-based hand sanitiser over the course of the year. This decision put the company in a similar position as William Grant & Sons, Diageo and Bacardi, all of which have adapted to changes in the alcohol supply chain as demand for hand sanitisers spiked.

Going forward, local distilleries should keep category adaptability in mind. Supply chain and category disruption is likely to be a regular feature of the coming global economy during lockdowns and the following recession.

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