Sector reactions to the Covid-19 crisis

7th April 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on businesses across the world. With a lot of uncertainty as to how the situation will develop and how long countries will operate under lockdown conditions, it’s a challenging time. The sugarcane sector faces the same battles as everyone else. However, sugarcane is used to make alcohol and keeping operations running and supply chains active (where possible and safe) is more important than ever.

Bonsucro has distilled the Covid-19 guidelines from the World Health Organization to produce some key recommendations for sugarcane producers. Download our guide in English here, in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

Our regional teams are keeping in close contact with Bonsucro members to offer our support and find out how they are responding to the public health crisis.

Many mills in Brazil are still working and are donating 70% pure alcohol to healthcare centres. Raízen is donating 4,000 litres of ethanol to public hospitals in the Sao Paulo region. UNICA shipped the first truck to The Holy Spirit last week and plans to send more this week. In addition, both Zilor and Usina Coruripe Açúcar e Álcool have already sent alcohol to local hospitals.

In Colombia, where the harvest is still underway, Grupo Mayagüez has produced videos showing the sanitation measures that farm workers are undertaking during their shift. There are also banners up to encourage people to stay at home.

In Guatemala, Grupo Pantaleon has optimised its distillery in order to donate sanitizer and disinfectant to the government and NGOs. To date, the team has donated over 75,700 litres.

Ingenio Guabira, based in Bolivia, has reduced its staff to avoid spreading the virus. And, only those that produce alcohol are working in order to sell disinfectant locally at a significantly reduced cost. The rest of the team are at home, under quarantine.

In India, the crushing season has ended so there are no workers at the mills. The distilleries are still working, but with fewer staff. Those that are on site are living in the mill campus itself. Our member, DCM Shririam has repurposed its manufacturing facilities in Kota, Rajistan and Bharuch, Gujarat to produce sodium hypochlorite – a disinfectant which is being donated to the local administration to sanitize the streets.

At the other end of the supply chain, PepsiCo announced a $5million donation in Mexico for the most vulnerable communities during the pandemic.  Unilever has launched a Covid-19 handwashing campaign to reach 1 billion people investing £50 million with the UK Department for International Development.

We are impressed with how quickly and efficiently organisations are facing up to these challenges and offering help to their communities, governments and health care providers.

This is a fast-evolving situation, and these are just a few  examples of how our members are responding to the crisis. We will publish regular updates on how the sector and our members are reacting. If there’s anything you’d like to tell us about, please contact our Communications Manager, Liz Foggitt.