The aluminum can shortage impacting the U.S. beverage market shows no signs of abating. However, major manufacturers such as Ball Corporation are increasing capacity as quickly as possible while some beer makers are reinstating bottling lines or finding creative solutions to maintain supply to customers.
Last year’s abrupt restrictions on in-person dining and drinking caused demand for packaged beverages, including canned beer, hard seltzers and soft drinks, to spike sharply.
Prior to the pandemic, consumers were already gravitating towards canned beverages due to their sustainability attributes, lighter weight and easy portability—features that are likewise attractive from a logistics and shipping perspective, especially with the added advantages of cans being less fragile than glass and easier to load more densely into a truck trailer or shipping container.
Beer makers also embraced aluminum cans over bottles in recent years. Yet, the severity of the aluminum can shortage is prompting some to revert to bottles again.
Colorado-based beer makers Odell Brewing and Left Hand Brewing both announced last fall that they would reinstate bottling lines for some of their beer brands. For Odell, the move was described as a “temporary” measure until the aluminum market stabilized.
Other breweries are relabeling unused cans, or using different sized cans, to keep their beverages flowing to consumers.
Meanwhile, Ball Corporation, the largest manufacturer of aluminum cans in North America, ramped up production capacity last year at two facilities in Texas and Georgia, and will bring three new facilities online this year.
The company’s Glendale, Arizona facility opened in the first quarter, and another facility in Pittston, Pennsylvania is opening this summer. A third facility in Bowling Green, Kentucky will begin operating later this year.
During its first quarter earnings report in May, the company noted that, “Demand for aluminum beverage cans and bottles continues to outstrip supply across North America.”
The supply-demand imbalance is expected to last at least into 2023, according to Ball Corporation’s President, Daniel Fisher.
The company has also turned to importing aluminum cans to help meet demand until its new facilities are operational.
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Top 10 Aluminum Producing Countries
- United Arab Emirates
- United States