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Having Pivoted at the Start of COVID-19, Distilleries Are Now Drowning in Hand Sanitizer

Plus, what’s the deal with eating airline food at home, and more news to start your day

Long Island Distillery Manufactures Hand Santizer Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
A Long Island distillery that transitioned their production from spirits to hand sanitizer in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Distilleries that pivoted from liquor to hand sanitizer have been hung out to dry after the pandemic’s initial panic-demand

When hand sanitizer was in short supply and high demand early on in the pandemic, craft distilleries across the country pivoted from making liquor to producing alcohol-based sanitizer for the purposes of donating and selling. But now, as demand has plummeted despite the spread of the coronavirus showing no signs of slowing, many of those distilleries are left with piling costs and excess hand sanitizer they can’t get rid of, the New York Times reports.

Distillery owners say that demand began fluctuating in June when brands like Purell were able to stabilize business and produce more sanitizer. Per the Times: “The price for sanitizer, which had hovered at $50 a gallon, plunged to around $15 a gallon.” Some distilleries are now dealing with thousands of gallons of leftover product, coupled with the prospect of having to replace all the equipment that they used to make the sanitizer (the FDA’s guidelines require distillers to add a bittering agent, which can be so strong that it permanently contaminates the distillery equipment).

Some distilleries have managed to continue making sanitizer by arranging contracts with local hospitals. But one distiller told the Times that the hard part is gauging “long-term commitment” — a problem that has plagued all of these distilleries, as messy reopening attempts in “fits and starts” across the states have left bars, restaurants, distilleries, and other businesses unsure of when or how they can safely reopen or return to their core lines of work.

And in other news…

  • Huge onion recall alert due to salmonella contamination. [Food Safety News]
  • With American Airlines no longer serving warm mixed nuts in first class due to coronavirus-related modifications, the company that supplies those nuts is now stuck with an 87,000-pound nut glut. [Vice]
  • Meanwhile, an airline food company in Israel has resorted to making its in-flight food available to the general public via meal delivery. [NPR]
  • The Navajo Nation’s fight for food sovereignty has only become more urgent due to the pandemic. [NYT]
  • Chipotle launched a merch site selling shirts dyed with avocado pits (and other items), and some of the clothes actually look … pretty good? [Chipotle Goods]
  • Expect to see a lot more 7-Eleven stores and gas stations: the convenience store giant is buying 3,900 Speedways in a $21 billion deal. [Supermarket News]
  • The catering industry in the time of COVID-19. [NYT]

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