Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory is among the many regional businesses answering the call to produce supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The family-owned business has repurposed its distillery at Corowa to make hospital grade hand sanitiser that meets World Health Organisation standards.

NSW Nationals Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke congratulated them for their ingenuity and joined the team at the Riverina Producer’s Market to help hand out customer orders.

“The demand for hand sanitiser is huge, as we have seen from the large numbers of people here today, and it is fantastic a local business has stepped up to the plate in this uncertain time,” Ms Cooke said.

“I take my hat off to the Druce’s for their innovation and making this change to keep their staff employed. I encourage any businesses around the region who might be able to start producing in-demand goods to give it a go.”

Managing Director of Junee Licorice and Chocolate Neil Druce said making the sanitiser had been a challenge but the demand from the community emphasised how important the product was.

“We had to get the recipe right and we had to get our permissions right. Today we have had a lot of people lined up, with 1.5 metre spacing, and the demand has been massive,” Mr Druce said.

“In the tourism sector and as a business person, when you’ve got really good employees and not much work for them, it’s critical to be able to turn around and do something different. You’ve got to reinvent yourself and this opportunity has been great for us. But I think for anyone, if you can’t do your normal thing look at what you can do.”

NSW Nationals Member for Myall Lakes Stephen Bromhead said the unprecedented global demand for much-needed medical supplies had seen traditional suppliers now unable to fill urgent orders to service NSW.

“Hand sanitiser, hand wash soap, gloves, cleaning products, protective clothing, masks, eyewear and paper products are now in such high demand,” Mr Bromhead said.

“We are now calling on local businesses to convert their production lines to make these products to fill the gap.”

The products urgently required include:

• Hand sanitiser
• Hand wash soap
• Gloves
• Cleaning products
• Protective clothing
• Masks
• Eyewear
• Paper products

Mr Bromhead said this was also a great way for businesses who may be seeing a downturn in business due to COVID-19 to adapt and remain strong during these uncertain times.

“This is a great way for business to diversify and keep as many workers in a job as possible,” Mr Bromhead said.

Businesses who are able to join the fight against COVID-19 are urged to register their interest here.