by Nicholas Hamner
Director of Marketing
COVID-19 has done more than its fair share of damage to the health of those unfortunate enough to contract it, but its many economic side effects have been plenty damaging, too. Besides a near-total retail shutdown, response to the virus has produced a number of unexpected results, the most prominent being product shortages.
Who remembers the initial rush to get hand sanitizer and the videos of folks fighting in a Rite-Aid parking lot over the last bottle of GermX? Toilet paper was a big one, but I think we're over that shortage for now. We're still struggling to find disinfectant wipes, however. Sam's dropped a pallet of store brand bleach wipes while I was shopping there last week—the number of folks that descended on that looked like locusts raiding a field. We've also had meat shortages, a run on above-ground pools and swing sets, and—most recently—a coin shortage.
Next up on the shortage list? Beer cans. Why?
- COVID-related pantry stocking means plenty of folks have stocked up on their favorite beverages.
- Brewers were forced to convert a lot of product intended for restaurant kegs to consumer-facing packaging, so they used more cans.
- Beer drinkers have had a lot more free time.
- Canned beer has seen a resurgence in the last decade as cans preserve flavor/prevent spoilage better than bottles do. AND
- The rise of White Claw-like seltzer drinks has put a run on the taller, slimmer 12 oz. cans.
What does this latest shortage mean? In the short run, you'll see fewer cans of less popular brands and varieties as brewers focus supplies on more popular lines. No brewer will say what they're cutting or limiting, due to trade secret, but we'll figure it out the next time we're in the distributor shop. In the long run, you'll see an increase in business. Philly based Crown Holdings is a prominent can manufacturer and is in the process of increasing its line capacities. Same with Colorado-based can producer Ball Corp.
Who knows what the next weird shortage will be? I'm putting my money on those little insulated water bottles that look like metal soda bottles. School may be starting back, and every kid is required to have one. I think that's a good bet. What do you think?