HOUSTON – A Houston distillery is getting into the hand sanitizer business as local stores struggle to keep up with demand as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
Gulf Coast Distillers usually produce vodka, whiskey, bourbon and beer at their east Houston location, along with coffee. Last week, the company received a federal permit last week to add hand sanitizer and isopropyl alcohol to its production line.
“We saw the panic in people trying to buy the products and how important it is to stopping the virus to make sure people sanitize properly and keep the hygiene levels that are needed to get this thing to stop,” said Carlos de Aldecoa, president of Gulf Coast Distillers. “What we thought about last week, with the shortages is ‘how can we help the community?'”
Using a formula approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the company plans to begin production this week on “several hundred thousand” of bottles of hand sanitizer and isopropyl alcohol, according to de Aldecoa.
Once produced, the sanitizer will be sold to retailers like H-E-B, Aldi and Dollar General — all stores that already carry the company’s coffee.
The first shipments will go out across Houston and Texas on Friday, de Aldecoa said.
“I think it will help ease a lot of the strain on the supply chain by having somebody jump in and fill that gap," he said. “We don’t know if it’s going to be something that we will do for three weeks for four weeks for two weeks, but we’re glad we can make a change.”
The company said it also plans to donate products to non-profit groups and government agencies.