A gin distillery in Taranaki has added a new range to its production line, with a different clientele in mind.
Jo and Dave James of BeGin Distilling Ltd which produces premium, boutique gin under the Juno name, say when they realised their skills could be used in the fight against Covid-19, they didn't hesitate to get involved.
"Our company values are three simple things, to make it fun, make it together and make it right. Clearly, using our skills and equipment to make hand sanitiser which our local health professionals are in desperate need of, fits perfectly under make it right," says Jo.
It also fits with the idea of togetherness she says.
"We are in this Covid-19 situation together, and this is a way we can support our community."
Their desire to support the local medical community means they are not selling their newly created hand sanitiser at a profit, instead just charging enough to cover the ingredients and packaging needed along with a minimal cost for the labour involved, says Dave.
"This is about making sure the people who need it can access it, not about our profits."
Gin and hand sanitiser are far removed from each other in many ways, says Jo, and making hand sanitiser is certainly less creative than creating batches of gin.
"It's much more like following a recipe. You aren't playing with it to bring out different botanicals. It's not a creative process like making gin, it is more of a chemical process."
So Juno fans needn't worry the popular distillery will change products long-term, says Jo.
"In fact, we are still selling our Juno gin online with contactless delivery throughout the lockdown as the government has determined food and beverage is an essential business."
This means the couple are busier than ever, creating and sending out their newly produced hand sanitiser as well as continuing to serve their customers with the range of popular gins BeGin Distilling is well known for.
While Dave and Jo say turning their hand to hand sanitiser production was an easy decision, the process to get approved by the government to do so took a little longer.
"We are quite lucky in that we are already set up for what is needed. To be effective, hand sanitiser needs to contain over 80 per cent alcohol and needs to contain hydrogen peroxide as an active ingredient. To handle that you need to have a Hazardous Substances and New Organisms, which I already do," says Jo.
"We need to label the product clearly too, to tell people not to store it at above 30 degrees, and not to leave in the car for example. So we needed to show we understood and could fulfill all these requirements. It's not as simple as just saying you think you can make it."
While applying for the relevant permissions from the government to be able to sell hand sanitiser, Jo and Dave were already at work creating the sanitiser.
"We know it needs two days from being made before you can sell it, to ensure that it is safe to use, so this way we were ready to go as soon as we got the authorisation."
It was important, says Dave, they were able to hit the ground running.
"The whole reason we decided to make it was because we were being asked directly by local medical professionals if we could, because they needed it, so we knew the sooner we could get it out to them, the better."
With demand for hand sanitiser so high, one of the problems they hit was actually being able to find suitable containers for it, says Jo.
"A lot of packaging stuff comes from overseas, particularly China, and obviously that isn't happening right now, so we did have to hunt for suitable containers. While we have them, we aren't able to source pump dispensers or sprays for example, so we are telling people to keep their original container of hand sanitiser and then use ours as a refill."
While they know everyone is looking for hand sanitiser, Jo and Dave are focusing on supplying local medical businesses and professionals at this point, as that is where they see the greatest need.
"We are pleased we are able to help our community at this time. We were well placed to do this, so it was obvious to us that we should do it. It is all about making it right and doing the right thing," says Jo.
To order hand sanitiser from BeGin Distilling Ltd, contact them on email@example.com