The ASX-listed medical device company ResMed is more than tripling its output of ventilators, while other manufacturers are examining whether they can switch to medical device components, or personal protective equipment.
“We started making some batches of hand sanitiser just for use by our people, and we thought ‘look, it’s something we can make instead of going out and buying it’, and there wasn’t a lot in the shops anyway,” Mr McMahon said.
After word spread about the product, Young Henrys fielded inquiries from charities, shelters and nursing homes interested in its sanitiser.
“We’ve had a lot of people coming to us and say ‘how much could you make?’, ‘Is there any chance that you could make some for us?’ It has been crazy. We could probably have sold about 50 times more than what we’d have the capacity to make,” he said.
Mr McMahon said the brewer was not trying to be opportunistic or make a profit out of the product, and did not know if it would, or even could sell.
The brewer is following World Health Organisation guidelines on hand sanitiser, and Mr McMahon feels it is appropriate to make it in the current environment.
“It’s something we’re able to make, so we’re making some, we’re going to gift some to a certain organisation. It’s another element of strangeness in this world gone mad,” he told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.
Young Henrys main game is wholesale beer sales. It also has a bottle shop and a small tasting bar, which Mr McMahon said “until last week had a 100 person capacity”.
But with the closing down of the hospitality industry because of COVID-19, Mr McMahon said the craft brewer had lost 70 to 80 per cent of its revenue.
Like Young Henrys, ASX-listed Pro-Pac Packaging is fielding a rush of calls, with demand for its plastic products surging because of the pandemic.
In particular, demand has soared for plastic bottles it makes that are filled with hand sanitiser by its customers, as well as the plastic “closures” fitted to the bottles.
Pro-Pac makes the bottles at two Melbourne factories. “They’re very busy. We’ve added additional shifts to be able to rise to the surge in demand,” said Pro-Pac boss Tim Welsh.
“We are finding that the product is in such short supply that the waiting list for those products is many weeks, and turning into months by the day … our customers, the fillers, are having to wait longer than they ordinarily would to be able to get deliveries,” he said.
Before the pandemic Pro-Pac was typically able to meet new orders within three days.
Darren is the mining and agribusiness reporter for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.