Producers of a hand-gel have defended doubling their prices amid a torrent of abuse as the coronavirus death toll spike.
Bosses at Jennychem, a British industrial chemicals firm, have been criticised for allegedly doubling the price of hand sanitising gel as demand surges due to COVID-19.
Jenny Callen, the firm’s owner, has defended the move as the cost of some of the raw ingredients has shot up 700 per cent since the outbreak, reports Hull Live.
The 54-year-old, who launched the business aged just 19, said: “We are selling at a good price. Of course we are making a profit, but we are not profiteering and making huge margins, because all the costs have gone up.”
Before COVID-19 struck, consumers could buy a five litre bottle of JennyChem hand sanitising gel for £33. That price has now doubled to £66.
The company, based in Snodland, Kent, has faced a barrage of “nasty” and “sometimes personal” abuse online.
One Ebay customer wrote: “How can you justify selling for this price just because of Coronavirus?”
On Jennychem’s Facebook page, Kate Jones said: “The country is in crisis and all you can think about is profiting from it. People need this but can’t afford to buy your ridiculous prices. Shameful.”
Mik Pars wrote: “Hopefully all the companies profiteering from people’s fear will soon go out of business.”
Jenny has hired more staff to deal with increased demand and insists the online comments are“unfair”.
Isopropyl alcohol, the main ingredient in santisier, cost 70p per litre before the crisis, according to Jenny. But the price has now rocketed to £4.95 per litre – a more-than seven-fold increase.
Jenny founded the company with the help of her father, a chemist, when she was just a teenager.
She started alone, but now employs more than 20 permanent staff producing a range of industrial products including vehicle shampoos, screen cleaner and air fresheners.
She said: “A lot of people, trolls really, are being nasty because they think I’m profiting from fear. I’m not. I’m providing a service. Unfortunately the price has gone up for us, so it’s gone up for users too.”
The company owner said she is prioritising regular customers, by refusing bulk orders from buyers who want to sell on the gel at a profit.
She added: “Distributors are coming to me and ordered by the pallet. They want to sell the product on for a huge profit.
“I could sell all my stock to them today if I wanted, but I am holding back to save the product for customers who have bought from me before.”
Jenny said she currently has raw materials to produce about 25,000 litres of hand gel, which at current rates would last about two weeks.
She added: “I have another two orders of 15 and 20 tonnes of raw materials due. I am expecting my suppliers to deliver them as scheduled because I am a regular customer.”
Since the outbreak struck, the company has received a deluge of requests from charities asking for donations.
These include the Air Ambulance, Royal Mail, care homes and local schools and churches.
Jenny has decided to donate £2,000 worth of gel and dispensers to select charities, and said she would give a “little something” to all who have requested.
Jenny said: “There’s a real possibility that people are going to lose loved ones. Hand sanitiser is the best way to kill off what is a horrible virus.
“All you need is a pea sized drop to sanitise your whole hand, back, front and in between the fingers.”