Aluminum can shortage continues more than a year into pandemic

·2 min read

The prolonged aluminum can shortage won't end anytime soon, the chief executive of Ball Corp. tells Axios, quashing the hopes of brewers for a return to normal.

  • "This year is going to continue to be challenging," says John Hayes, the CEO at the Broomfield-based can giant.

Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with Axios Markets. Subscribe for free

What's happening: A surge in demand for cans amid the pandemic, paired with a shortage of aluminum, continues to plague the beverage industry.

  • The lighter weight and convenience of cans makes it the preferred packaging for new beverage lines, from carbonated water and seltzers to wine and cocktails.

  • The competition is pinching brewers, particularly small ones who've shifted from serving beer over the bar to packaging brews due to pandemic shutdowns.

Flashback: Some Colorado brewers adapted by affixing new labels on preprinted cans and others even moved back to glass bottles last summer.

  • "It's certainly not going to be the clean look we're known for," Dave Thibodeau, Ska Brewing's founder, said at the time.

What's new: Ball Corp., the world's largest supplier of beverage cans, is investing more than $1.5 billion to increase capacity to meet demand that Hayes says the industry hasn't seen since the 1970s.

  • Ball makes more than 350 million cans a day at its facilities around the world.

  • Yes, but: "Until the new capacity is up and running, it's going to continue to be challenging" to meet demand, Hayes added.

Of note: To address the supply shortage for can makers, U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, a Republican whose Colorado district includes more than 50 breweries, reintroduced legislation to investigate price setting and ensure a fair market for purchases.

  • "These breweries and other beverages companies are currently experiencing unfair market prices for aluminum prices," Rep. Buck said in a statement.

More from Axios: Sign up to get the latest market trends with Axios Markets. Subscribe for free

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting