Roquette, Cargill muck in to ward off coronavirus transmission in Europe

By Flora Southey

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags Roquette Cargill COVID coronavirus

Roquette is producing hydro-alcoholic disinfectant for health institutions in France and Cargill is donating disinfecting alcohol to the Dutch government in response to heightened demand.

Unpredicted, elevated demand for disinfectant amid the coronavirus crises has encouraged ingredients suppliers, such as French pea protein supplier Roquette and food company Cargill – which produces alcohol for the drinks and health industry – to muck in.

Roquette adapts pilot line to make disinfectant in France

Ingredients specialist Roquette is responding to the shortage of hydro-alcoholic disinfectant by modifying an R&D line at its facility in Lestrem, France.

While Roquette does not usually produce this kind of solution, it has adjusted one of its pilot units and obtained the required regulatory approvals to do so.

Production started last week and the first shipment has now been sent, free of charge, to a number of local health facilities in coordination with the Hauts-de-France Regional Health Agency.

“At Roquette we think that, more than ever, we all have to join forces and help each other to address this global crisis. With this initiative, we wish to take part in the collective effort to support those who are fighting the COVID-19 pandemic every day,” ​noted Roquette CEO Jean-Marc Gilson.

To begin with, Roquette will produce 5,000L of hydro-alcoholic disinfectant solution per week. The company will retain 400L for use across its sites. The Lille University Centre will receive 4,000L per week, and the French Blood Donors Organisation, together will healthcare workers of other local health facilities, will benefit from 500L.

Professor Pascal Odou, Chief of the Lille University Hospital Pharmacy, confirmed the COVID-19 pandemic has generated a massive demand in hydro-alcoholic solution.

Roquette jerricans solution hydroalcoolique
Roquette is producing hydro-alcoholic disinfectant for health institutions in France ©Roquette

“Since the beginning of the crisis, and thanks to the commitment of the health professionals and to the mobilisation of the students in Pharmacy, the Lilly University Hospital Centre has been engaged in the preparation and the packing of around 2,000L of hydro-alcoholic solution per day.

“It helps address the needs of the health providers and of all professionals implied in our hospital, as well as around 20 healthcare centres in the north of France. The Lille University Hospital Centre is really leased to rely on the support of Roquette which contributes to answer those significant needs.”

Cargill donates disinfecting alcohol to Dutch government

Cargill is similarly aware of the heightened demand for disinfecting alcohol amid the global spread of coronavirus.

In an effort to reduce shortages in the Netherlands, Cargill – which produces alcohol for the drinks and health industry – is putting alcohol production at the ‘service of this crisis’.

This month, the company made its first donation of 60,000L of disinfecting alcohol to the Dutch Government. The solution was produced at Cargill’s Sas van Gent in Zeeland and will be distributed to hospitals and other healthcare institutions through the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS).

Cargill Europe Managing Director Alain Dufait said the company is working hard to keep its factories operating at full capacity across Europe and wants to do its bit to help the government optimally support and care for all sick patients. The 60,000L donation will “enable medical staff to work more safely,” ​he noted.

“We are also currently investigating how we can support the authorities in other European countries – such as Italy, Belgium and Germany – from our European factory network. In the meantime, a global network has been set up within Cargill to supply the production companies with the necessary protective clothing and hygiene products so that our people can continue to work safely.”

Unliever pledges €100m in soap, sanitiser, bleach and food

Unilever is another company reorganising resources to reduce transmission of the virus​. As the world’s biggest soap company, Unilever said it has a responsibility to help.

“We have a social, medical and moral obligation to make soap more readily available worldwide,” ​noted CEO Alan Jope. “We have to deploy our expertise in how to teach people to handwash effectively, whichever brand they choose to use.”

The company is donating soap, sanitiser, bleach and food to the value of €100m. Approximately half of this will be allocated to the COVID Action Platform of the World Economic Forum, and the other half will come from product donations, partnerships and handwashing education programmes the company is organising at national and local levels.

Jope noted that initiatives in the US, India, China, UK, the Netherlands and Italy, among other countries, are ‘well under way’, with employees working hard to manufacture and distribute millions of bars of free soap to those most in need.

“It’s going to take action from everyone in society to overcome this challenge, and we are ready to play our part and fight this together.”

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