Animal nutrition company hits 1 millionth gel mark

A Cork-based animal nutrition company has just produced its 1 millionth bottle of hand sanitiser for the Health Service Executive (HSE). Mervue Laboratories, in partnership with Irish Distillers, ensured that the HSE had supplies from early March.

The privately-owned company is manufacturing over 40,000 units of Gelguard hand gel per day and is the primary supplier to key services such as: the HSE; the defence forces; Tusla; and the department of welfare.

Director of Mervue Laboratories, William Twomey, said that the move came about after a conversation with his pharmacist Ciaran O’Connor from Bishopstown Pharmacy.

“The HSE needed hand sanitiser urgently, pharmacies were struggling to keep it in stock and the situation was exacerbated by countries closing their borders and holding onto stocks and raw materials.

“Ciaran asked if we had the capability to produce hand gel from our labs here in Cork and when I responded that technically yes we did, he said we had to help to save lives.”

Massive supply of alcohol

While Mervue Labs is an expert in manufacturing gel-based products, it needed to partner with Irish Distillers for the massive supply of alcohol needed, William said.

We create and produce more than 400 nutrient and nutraceutical products for veterinary shops and specialised animal health outlets in over 60 countries, so we had the technical and manufacturing abilities at our fingertips but not the alcohol.

“As chance had it, I had recently met someone from Irish Distillers who I was able to reach out to and they immediately came on board. Not only that but the company donated the alcohol. Together, we were in a position to answer the HSE’s call for help,” William said.

“In combination with the procurement team in the HSE and the department of agriculture, we worked tirelessly over the last few months to make things happen. It has been a real team effort of people who care for our country and want to help at a time of national crisis.”

Mervue originally diverted staff from normal business to meet the unprecedented demand of the HSE in the national interest. The company has since taken on numerous temporary workers and now operates seven days-a-week from its facility in Watergrasshill, north Cork.

It currently has 105 employees, with plans to automate both plants, Mervue Laboratories and Inform Nutrition, this summer.

“Mervue Laboratories and Irish Distillers are really proud to produce our 1 millionth bottle of Gelguard.

“The HSE want to source products locally on a long-term basis and we have the necessary facility, capacity and supply chain available to manufacture large-scale quantities of alcohol gel for frontline workers for as long as is needed,” William said.

Antibiotic substitution

Pharmacist Ciaran O’Sullivan expressed delight at the production of the 1 millionth bottle of sanitiser.

Hand sanitiser is in short supply around the world because of the pandemic and it is fantastic that two Cork-based companies came together to help our very strained health system at a time of need.

Mervue normally researches, develops and manufactures a range of cutting-edge, drug-free, nutrition-based health products for farm animals, pets, horses and camels in more than 60 countries worldwide.

Developed out of a demand for antibiotic substitution, it is one of the fastest growing nutraceutical companies in the world, with a year-on-year growth rate of 15-30%.