Sugar mills boost production capacity of hand sanitisers to 100K L per day

Topics Coronavirus | sugar mills

In today’s market, one sees a flurry of new brands across medical stores as well as online
Even as the domestic sugarcane crushing season 2019-20 continues, sugar mills have simultaneously ramped up hand sanitiser manufacturing capacity to almost 100,000 litres per day to cater its rising demand following the coronavirus outbreak. Apart from sugar mills, grain based distilleries have also set up additional capacity of 100,000 litres per day taking the total additional capacity to 200,000 litres per day.

Responding to the advisory by the central and state governments for increasing the production of ethanol/ethyl alcohol based hand sanitisers, the sugar mills, particularly in Uttar Pradesh, have moved fast to supplement supply with greenfield facilities at their captive distilleries.

“The central and state government departments and agencies, including sugar, excise, drug controllers, have worked in perfect coordination resulting in speedier sanctions of licenses and subsequent hand sanitiser production,” Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) director general Abinash Verma told Business Standard today.

While, the production data, he said, was being collated, nearly 50 sugar mills pan India had created sanitiser capacities totalling 100,000 litres per day with the majority producing roughly 2,000 litres each.

“Those who have already forayed into the segment include firms such as Balrampur Chini, Bajaj Hindusthan, Dharmpur, Triveni, Dalmia etc,” he informed.

While, some sugar companies are producing and marketing hand sanitisers, or supplying it to other firms for bottling and marketing, others have firmed up contracts to supply its raw material viz. ethanol/ethyl alcohol/extra neutral alcohol (ENA) to external sanitiser units.

Besides, other grain based distilleries have also set up additional 100,000 litres per day hand sanitiser capacity to supplement the domestic market demand, Verma added.

Meanwhile, he said there were no reports of any disruption in the crushing operations following the lockdown over coronavirus and there was no reason yet to revise the seasonal sugar production estimates pegged at about 33 million tonnes (MT).

“There was a little disruption with the lime quarries in Rajasthan and lime transportation to the mills. However, it has now been sorted out with the intervention of the relevant central and state authorities,” Verma added.

National  Federation of Cooperative Sugar Factories Limited managing director Prakash Naiknavare said more than 35 MT of sugarcane crop was still standing in the fields across the sugar producing states, especially North India and particularly UP.

“If the lockdown caused any disruption in the movement of cane to the mills and the transport of sugar to the market, it would only result in the loss to exchequer in the form of payment of compensation to farmers. Therefore, the entire value chain viz. cane, sugar, ethanol etc and also labour has been put under the essential commodities act (ECA) providing for seamless operations,” he added.

Naiknavare informed most mills were providing for the temporary stay of their labourers and their families inside the factory premises, so that they do not have to commute outside during the lockdown period.

Meanwhile, he expressed concern on the sugar exports, saying the global sugar prices crash coupled with the adverse impact on international trade had cast shadow on meeting the seasonal export target of 6 MT.

“So far, the mills have contracted for sugar exports worth 3.8 MT. While, there are issues with inland movement of sugar to ports, the onward movement to the export destination is also uncertain. I feel, we could end the season with sugar exports of 4.5 MT in the current circumstances,” Naiknavare noted.

However, Verma sounded optimistic of the situation improving for the sugar industry, including exports going forward.

“Although, the international sugar prices are down by 20-25 per cent, we are confident of the matrix improving, since it is a vital consumer and industrial product globally. Besides, the domestic sugar industry is hopeful of striking export deals with Indonesia, especially in the backdrop of significant drop in Thailand cane production and the sops being provided by Indonesia to sugar import from a few countries, including India,” he said.

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