The unimaginable devastation caused by the magnitude 7.0 earthquake in Haiti on January 13 has brought out the charitable character of the beverage industry so much so that it is nearly impossible to total all the generous contributions to the relief efforts in that country. From international to small companies, the industry has recognized the need for products and assistance.

The Caribbean island country suffers from the hundreds of thousands lost, the need for medical aid, and the destruction of homes, hospitals, schools and other buildings. Beverage companies have donated financially along with their time, employees, services and other disaster relief aids. Like few other consumer products goods categories, beverage companies also have stepped up to the plate by giving products, especially bottled and enhanced waters, sports drinks and carbonated soft drinks. The industry has been able to both provide and bring comfort through its donations.

In the past month, these gifts have helped to foster some signs of recovery in Haiti. The Brasserie Nationale d’Haiti (Haitian National Brewery), which manufactures the national beer Prestige, was one of the first production facilities to reopen, news sources report. The Port-Au-Prince beverage manufacturer is Haiti’s largest. While it is reported that Brasserie Nationale d’Haiti will soon start rolling out its most popular product, the company began production with bottled water. Diageo holds a minority stake in Brasserie Nationale d’Haiti, which has more than 1,300 employees, and locally brews Guinness beer and distributes many of Diageo’s products, the company says. Initially more than 350 employees of Brasserie Nationale d’Haiti’s workforce have been called back, news sources say.

As contributions continue to be made to Haiti disaster relief efforts, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere still needs more long-term help as the degree of the damage becomes clearer. As the beverage industry has demonstrated with its call to action after other disasters, it understands that even internationally people are all interconnected and is committed to social responsibility. “No man is an island,” to summarize poet John Donne’s sentiments.

Elizabeth Fuhrman