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Pandemic Causes, Of All Things, A Beer Can Shortage

beer cans placed on table
Facebook/Key Grove Brewery
Key Grove Brewery in Bloomington has had to fill additional can suppliers due to a beer can shortage.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused a bottleneck in the beer industry. There apparently aren't enough beer cans anymore.Since the pandemic, people have been drinking more and they aren't buying from kegs like they used to, with bars and restaurants closed for much of the last year. Instead, they are buying beer in cans at grocery stores, liquor stores, gas stations and breweries. That has caused a can shortage.

Neil Reinhardt
Credit courtesy
Neil Reinhardt

Neil Reinhardt, director of sales at Destihl Brewery in Normal, is optimistic the can shortage won’t leave his business high and dry.

“We’re feeling pretty confident we will have plenty of cans for 2021,” Reinhardt said.

Destihl plans to produce more than five million cans of beer this year. He said Destihl contracted with a second can suppler two years ago and that has come in handy now that cans are in such high demand.

“We keep that line of communication open so that we are making sure that if potentially one dries up, we have another option,” Reinhardt said. “It’s always good to have a Plan B.”

Reinhardt said Desithl can put in bulk orders well ahead of time, so their supplies are locked in. He said smaller brewers may have a harder time getting those orders met.

“It was easy for a while, but as of late the shortage has definitely affected all of our pipelines for cans,” said Jeff Mroz, co-owner of Keg Grove Brewing in Bloomington. “We’ve been forced to pay higher prices and source from other vendors that are only offering limited amounts right now.”

Mroz said Keg Grove has had to stock up on beer cans, taking over much of its storage space. He said Keg Grove has had to eat the added cost.

Mroz said Keg Grove contracted with Destihl for beer cans before the pandemic. Back then, cans were  a much smaller portion of their business. He said now about three-fourths of Keg Grove's sales are in cans, but he said it will likely go down to about 50% when the weather gets warmer and they can reopen their outdoor patio.

Mroz said the can shortage has only emerged in the last few weeks. It's been a bigger problem in Chicago. Some breweries have had to cut brands or shift to bottles.

Mroz said he hopes by summer the can market will stabilize, but for now it’s just another unpredictable turn that business owners have to adjust to during the pandemic.

“The market keeps changing. I think the biggest thing for all businesses, we’ve all had to adapt during the pandemic to find new and creative ways of sourcing our products,” Mroz said.

Reinhardt said the can shortage also could hurt the spiked seltzer market, since most of that product are sold in aluminum cans, too.

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.