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Corporate Social Responsibility activations around the world - The IARD Digest - March 2020 - CORONAVIRUS SPECIAL

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Once a month, the drinks industry-funded International Alliance for Responsible Drinking, which covers alcohol policies worldwide, reviews some of the alcohol industry's recent CSR activities. This month, we look at companies' efforts to help curb the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19.

This month, the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking looks at global CSR activities related to the COVID-19 pandemic

This month, the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking looks at global CSR activities related to the COVID-19 pandemic

Beverage alcohol producers around the world are taking action to help the health services during the current coronavirus pandemic, including using their resources and facilities to produce more hand sanitiser. Diageo is donating up to 2m litres of alcohol to sanitiser manufacturers around the world. This will be made into 8m bottles of sanitiser for health services and communities. The sanitiser will be distributed across the UK, Ireland, Italy, the US, Brazil, Kenya, India and Australia.

In Puerto Rico, Bacardi has partnered with a local manufacturer to provide the raw materials to produce around 1.7m bottles of hand sanitiser. These will be distributed to local communities nationwide. Anheuser-Busch InBev's unit in Brazil, AmBev, has repurposed one of its breweries to produce 500,000 bottles of sanitiser, which will be donated to public hospitals in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia, where the outbreak is currently concentrated. In South Africa, the members of the SA Liquor Brandowners Association, the Beer Association of South Africa and Vinpro are donating 40,000 litres of pure alcohol, with further donations to follow. In the US, Anheuser-Busch is working with the Red Cross and other non-profits to distribute bottles of sanitiser around the country. And, Brown-Forman has already manufactured 6,000 bottles of hand sanitiser at its Woodford Reserve and Old Forester distilleries, and will produce as much as supplies allow.

Meanwhile, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) is working with Congress and the Government to ease tax regulations that could require distillers producing hand sanitiser to pay federal excise taxes on the alcohol used. Although the Tax & Trade Bureau (TTB) has already eased regulations to permit distillers to make sanitiser, it could not waive the federal excise tax for distillers using undenatured ethanol - sanitiser is currently only excise-exempt if it is made with denatured ethanol. DISCUS has asked lawmakers to urgently fix upcoming COVID-19 relief legislation so that distillers can use the ethanol they already have – whether denatured or undenatured – to make sanitiser without delay or additional resources.

Pernod Ricard has also been in discussions with US authorities to sort through the regulatory hurdles in the production of sanitiser in the country. At the same time, the group will produce sanitiser gel at all of its manufacturing sites around the world, including Absolut in Sweden and Irish Distillers. In France, Pernod is donating 70,000 litres of pure alcohol to Laboratoire Cooper to produce sanitiser. CEO Alex Ricard said, "As the world is facing a major pandemic, companies must mobilise, not only to ensure the safety of their employees but also to contribute to collective efforts in accordance with their capabilities. By sharing our resources and making our production facilities available wherever they are needed, we are supporting our fellow citizens and local authorities."

Independent spirits distillers are also helping produce more sanitiser, from large brands in South Korea, China, the Philippines, Australia, Spain, Latvia, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, to smaller, craft producers around the world.

Producers are also supporting workers in the hospitality sector during a particularly difficult time. In the UK, Diageo has launched a GBP1m (US$1.2m) fund to help pubs and bars pay their staff while they are closed, while A-B InBev will invest at least EUR1m (US$1.1m) to support the Belgian hospitality sector through various initiatives.

In the USBeam Suntory has partnered with Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits (SHWS) to donate $1m to the United States Bartenders' Guild (USBG) to support hospitality workers who have been impacted by the crisis. Molson Coors is also donating $1m to the USBG, and launching a new Miller Lite social media campaign encouraging the public to also make donations to the USBG through the organisation's 'National Charity Foundation's Bartender Emergency Assistance Program'. Pernod has pledged $500,000 to the guild's fund through its Jameson Irish whiskey brand and promised to match every dollar in donations up to a maximum of $100,000.

Meanwhile, Brown-Forman will give $1m to COVID-19 response funds in the US, supporting multiple locations, agencies and communities. One of the first donations will support the Restaurant Workers' Community Foundation's relief fund for restaurant workers, as well as contributing to the USBG programme. The distiller has also donated to a community relief fund in its hometown of Louisville and is exploring additional ways to expand its reach and donations in its 170 markets worldwide.

Finally in Denmark, Carlsberg's three charitable foundations have donated a total of EUR12.7m to help mitigate the pandemic, by funding research into COVID-19 as well as supporting art museums and "civil society" through this difficult period. The Carlsberg Foundation has given EUR8m to research projects, of which EUR6.6m has gone to virological researchers from the University of Copenhagen, Aarhus University and the Serum Institute, in collaboration with a group of behavioural researchers. The remaining EUR1.3m has gone to researchers at Roskilde University. 

The brewer hopes the move will lead to new insights into prevention, diagnosis and treatment for coronavirus and future epidemics.

For further details on The International Alliance for Responsible Drinking, click here


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