The Fizz in Soda, Beer Costs More These Days

Because people have been driving less, the nation’s supply of carbon dioxide has dropped. 

May 28, 2020

SANTA ROSA, Calif.—Who knew less driving would mean less carbon dioxide for soft drinks and beer? But with consumers hitting the road less often, ethanol production has declined. Carbon dioxide is a byproduct of ethanol, so getting the fizz for sodas and beer has become more costly, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Around 40% of all industrial carbon dioxide produced in the United States is from ethanol. The Compressed Air Association found that production of carbon dioxide decreased 30% from 2019 levels. For example, Badger State Ethanol slashed production by 40% in April, a move which also cut its carbon dioxide output by the same amount, according to CEO Erik Huschitt. “It’s been chaos,” he said. “We’re rebounding. But it’s from a catastrophic level.”

In 2018, companies like Coca-Cola Co. experienced a similar fizzy shortage when United Kingdom production plants hit a hiccup that triggered a carbon-dioxide supply plunge. This time, a Coke spokesperson indicated the drop in carbon-dioxide production in North America is offset by a lower demand for fountain sodas due to restaurants and sports venues being shuttered. “We do not foresee any concerns about supply at this time,” she said.

However, brewers might soon begin raising prices to counteract the increase in fizz, especially as restaurants in many states reopen, said Bob Pease, president of the Brewers Association. “This shortage could become critical in short order,” he said.

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