The Aluminum Can Shortage — What it Means for Consumers

First, there was a shortage of toilet paper, then meat, then coins, and now: aluminum cans.

As consumers shift from drinking at bars and restaurants to drinking at home during the coronavirus pandemic, supply-demand has moved from large kegs down to cans. The shift, combined with a surge in demand for alcohol, has forced some brewers to cut back on the range of brands they sell.

​​”This is a little bit of COVID, a little bit of market dynamics over the long run,” said Lester Jones, the Wholesalers Association chief economist. ​​

In May, Molson Coors, manufacturer of products like Blue Moon, announced a shift away from its less popular brews after facing new aluminum can shortages.

“We’ve been working with our distributors to try to manage it, we’ve been getting as many cans as possible from our suppliers, we’ve literally scoured the globe to source more cans from countries around the world, and we’re now seeing progress on the supply of 12-ounce industry-standard cans,” Molson Coors chief communication officer Adam Collins said in an emailed statement.

Supply shortages and increased demand for some goods have impacted the market since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. However, aluminum has been in high demand for some time.

According to CNN, aluminum cans have seen increasing demand over the past decade, and that demand spiked with the introduction of popular seltzers like White Claw.

The National Beer Wholesalers Association reported that sales of canned beer accounted for 50 percent of all beer sold in 2010, but last year that number jumped to 60 percent.

Soda companies are also facing the realities of the aluminum can shortage and are cutting back certain low-demand products to meet the high demand for popular items.

USA Today reports that PepsiCo CEO Ramon Laguarta told analysts in a conference call that the company “made some choices in our supply chain” to “eliminate the less” popular items in its lineup for now.

While the shortages of cans do not impact some breweries, some say the worst is yet to come.

“Can supply is a big deal,” said Paul Gatza, a senior vice president for the Brewers Association, the trade association representing America’s craft breweries. “We are seeing extended wait times for can orders, and also some of the smaller players not having orders fulfilled. Expect to hear more about can shortages across beverage companies.”



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