The shortage of aluminum cans could hurt small breweries more than the bigger players.
Even before the pandemic hit, more and more beverages were being consumed in cans, leading to tight supplies.
It might be tough for small breweries to compete.
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The US is facing an aluminum can shortage, and the effects could be worse for small breweries that are already weathering a host of issues thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.
The closure of restaurants, bars, and taprooms to in-person visitors in many parts of the country disrupted a large source of revenue for craft breweries. To make up for those losses, breweries turned to canning much of the beer they would typically sell on draught.
But with a shortage of cans available, it might be tough for smaller players to get their hands on supplies.
“For a lot of our smaller brewers that were used to selling on-premise, and if they’re forced to be closed to the public, other than say, to-go sales or pick-up sales, it would be kind of [between a] rock and a hard spot,” Chuck Skypeck, technical brewing projects manager at the Brewers Association, told Business Insider.
Even before the pandemic arrived, the supply of aluminum cans had grown tight as demand for canned beverages has soared. These days, it’s not just beer and soda that come in cans — producers are now canning wine, hard seltzer, premade cocktails, and kombucha.
Last year, even Coca-Cola announced it would start selling Dasani water in aluminum cans as bottled water producers have faced pressure to reduce their reliance on plastic.
Currently, there are only three companies that manufacture aluminum cans in the US. And, from an efficiency perspective, it’s easier for plants to churn out a large batch of one brand before having to stop and switch out the plates that would create labels for a different one.
For small craft breweries facing competition for cans, making the switch to glass bottles isn’t so simple. Bottling beer requires another set of equipment that breweries might not readily have on hand.
“You can’t turn on a dime. You can’t load glass to be filled in a can filler and vice versa. So if you’re going to buy a bottle and a piece of bottling equipment, you’ve got to make sure you have utilities in place to accept that,” Skypeck said, adding that the current consumer preference for cans means that canning equipment is often easier to come by than gear for bottling.
The pandemic has created many challenges for breweries, as shifting rules around social distancing and on-premise alcohol consumption have forced them to adapt. Some are navigating staff layoffs while others have decided to close for good.
45.8% of respondents to an April Brewers Association survey said that their business could last between one and three months if social distancing measures continued.
SEE ALSO: The US is running low on aluminum cans, and analysts warn you might see your favorite beers go out of stock
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Source:: Business Insider