The Pernod Ricard plant in Fort Smith is one of four company plants gearing up to produce and donate hand sanitizer to help in the national fight against the COVID-19 virus.
In addition to Fort Smith, the hand sanitizer will be produced Smooth Ambler Spirits in Lewisburg, W.V., Rabbit Hole Distillery in Louisville, Ky., and TX Whiskey Distillery in Ft. Worth, Texas.
“Our company is proud to support the efforts of the Administration and communities across the country in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Ann Mukherjee, chairman and CEO, Pernod Ricard North America.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said the ongoing pandemic outbreak of respiratory disease is caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that was first detected in China and which has now been detected in more than 150 locations internationally, including in the United States.
COVID-19 cases in the U.S. were approaching 11,000 as of Thursday morning, with at least 150 deaths confirmed. Arkansas cases as of early Thursday totaled 46, up from 33 on Wednesday.
Mukherjee credited federal officials, including Dr. Peter Navarro, assistant to the President for Trade and Manufacturing, for their role in helping Pernod Ricard USA quickly navigate several regulatory hurdles and obtain the necessary approvals to produce American-made hand sanitizer.
“In coordination with Dr. Navarro and the White House Task Force, we are utilizing our network of American manufacturing sites to help curb the national shortage of hand sanitizer which we will produce and donate for domestic use.”
U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, praised Pernod Ricard for altering its production.
“Our top priority during this crisis is the health and safety of all Americans. It’s great to see Pernod Ricard USA prioritizing a national need over short-term business gains to make an impact during this national emergency,” Womack said.
Womack will join Melissa Hanesworth, manager of the the Pernod Ricard plant in Fort Smith, Friday afternoon to discuss how the plant is responding to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Pernod Ricard USA is a premium spirits and wine company in the U.S., and the largest subsidiary of Paris, France-based Pernod Ricard SA., the world’s second-largest spirits and wine company. Pernod Ricard employs approximately 19,000 people worldwide, with more than 800 in the U.S. Pernod Ricard USA is based in New York City.