San Miguel, Emperador Make Alcohol That Philippines Needs Now

·2 min read
File Photo: Filipino pedestrians walk past the San Miguel corporation headquarter in Manila, Philippines. (Photo: JOEL NITO/AFP via Getty Images)
File Photo: Filipino pedestrians walk past the San Miguel corporation headquarter in Manila, Philippines. (Photo: JOEL NITO/AFP via Getty Images)

By Claire Jiao

The Philippines’ biggest liquor makers are gearing to produce a different kind of alcohol - the disinfecting agent that hospitals are in dire need of and has vanished from most grocery shelves.

San Miguel Corp.’s Ginebra San Miguel Inc. will produce 70% ethyl alcohol amid a shortage in disinfectants and hand sanitizers, President Ramon Ang said. The Philippines’ largest company is fermenting molasses used at its gin distillery to make rubbing alcohol that will be donated to hospitals and villages in the Philippine capital region, Ang said.

Alliance Global Group Inc., parent of brandy maker Emperador Inc., also pledged to donate 1 million liters of rubbing alcohol to the novel coronavirus fight by supplying raw materials to a local producer to denature into a disinfectant, CEO Kevin Tan said. Initial deliveries have been sent across the capital and provinces in central and southern Philippines.

Asia Brewery, Inc. and Tanduay Distillers Inc., beer and rum makers owned by billionaire Lucio Tan’s LT Group Inc., have also conceptualized their first batch of rubbing alcohol. They target to produce 190,000 liters to be donated to the Department of Health, the military and the police, LT Group President Michael Tan said. D&L Industries Inc. said it will boost production of cleaning solutions.

Just like in many places, the pandemic has sparked instances of hoarding of basic goods and medical supplies in the Philippines. The Trade Department has capped purchases of disinfectant alcohol to only two bottles per customer, with violators facing fines of as much as 2 million pesos ($39,250) and imprisonment of as long as 15 years.

The Philippines’ main Luzon island of 60 million people is on a monthlong lockdown from mid-March, as the number of confirmed cases climbed to 501 as of Tuesday.

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P.