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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Soft drink stockpiling causes aluminum can shortage

Missing Pibb and Cherry Coke-Zero? As COVID-19 health guidelines continue to discourage eating in restaurants, consumers have started stockpiling their favorite canned beverages to drink at home.

The resulting shortage of aluminum cans has forced factories like Coca-Cola Bottling Co. in Spokane Valley to prioritize.

“We are seeing greater demand for products consumed at home and Swire Coca-Cola is taking measures to adapt while working to mitigate the challenge during this unprecedented time,” Swire Coca-Cola, owners of Coca-Cola Bottling Co., said in an email Monday. “We appreciate the loyalty of our customers and want them to know that we are working hard to keep the products they love on the shelves.”

There is no shortage of aluminum, but the capacity to produce the cans is insufficient to keep cans on the shelves in pre-pandemic quantities.

“Aluminum cans are in very tight supply with so many people buying more multipack products to consume at home,” Coca-Cola spokesperson Ann Moore told USA Today in an email last week.

But it’s not just soft drink companies that are struggling to can their products, so savor those White Claws while you can.

“Everyone who makes anything that goes into a 12-ounce can is being challenged to some respect,” Molson Coors’ spokesperson Adam Collins told CNN Business earlier this week.

“Higher at-home consumption combined with already tight supply/demand conditions outpaced domestically produced volume,” Ball Corporation, a leading can manufacturer, said in its 2020 second-quarter report.

Manufacturers have had to limit the production of lower selling products to meet demand.

The report continued to explain that by prioritizing production “with certain customers … the short-term benefit of imported cans from our global network will provide availability of cans for consumers’ significant demand for soft drinks, sparkling water, spiked seltzers and beer during the busy summer selling season.”

New production lines opening in Georgia and Texas, along with “two new can manufacturing facilities in Arizona and Northeastern U.S. … operational by mid-2021” will also mitigate can scarcity.

Kaiser Aluminum’s Trentwood rolling mill in Spokane Valley once produced aluminum for soda and beer cans. The company quit that line of business in 2002 as it used bankruptcy to reorganize its business operations.