Food, Drink Aluminum Can Shortages Continue

Manufacturers bank on the increased demand outlasting the pandemic. 

August 26, 2020

MILWAUKEE—Manufacturers of aluminum cans have seen an uptick in demand during the coronavirus pandemic, a trend they believe will continue long into the future, the Wall Street Journal reports. With bars and restaurants shuttered in the early days of the pandemic, U.S. consumers purchased larger quantities of canned drinks and food.

That shift happened on top of an already increase of aluminum drinking cans pre-pandemic. The growing interest in hard seltzers, typically coming in cans, as well as the higher recycling rates also contributed to the resurgence of cans.

“Every company that makes anything in the 12-ounce can has been challenged to some degree by the global can shortage,”’ said Gavin Hattersley, CEO of Molson Coors Beverage. “Demand for kegs in the U.S. went to zero, and conversely demand for cans went through the roof.”

Coca-Cola Co. also said it was having trouble finding enough cans and that less popular brands such as Cherry Coke Zero, Minute Maid Zero Sugar Lemonade and Pibb Extra might be not be as plentiful, a spokeswoman said. Coke has accelerated capacity, but “demand is so high it’s still outpacing supply at times.”

Anheuser Busch InBev SA hasn’t been caught flat-footed by the accelerated demand for cans. “We have been preparing for a can uptick for quite some time,” said CEO Carlos Brito.

Overall, U.S. retail sales of aluminum drink cans soared close to 24% by volume since March, according to IRI. Demand for canned food has also skyrocketed, with sales jumping 23.5% from January to June, according to Nielsen.

“Demand is just kind of crazy,” said Kathleen Pitre, chief commercial and sustainability officer at Ball Corp., which is the world’s biggest aluminon drink can manufacturer. Ball will soon have two new production lines, one in Texas and one in Georgia.