These days it’s hard to find a six-course craft beer on the shelves with a price tag of less than $ 10.
While inflation problems and the supply chain play a part in this, so do Trump-era covers on aluminum and steel, which beer industry insiders say perpetuate barriers to expansion for small breweries and shock stickers to consumers.
Aluminum tariffs have cost the U.S. beverage industry more than $ 1.4 billion, and individual brewers like Jim Hansen of San Antonio’s Second Pitch Beer Co. can attest to the headache caused by the high price of aluminum and the nationwide shortage of cans.
When the Second Pitch opened in August 2020, during the first peak of the COVID-19 epidemic, then-President Donald Trump’s tariffs on steel imports and 10% tariffs on the then president’s aluminum imports were already in effect for about two years. As a result, Second Pitch paid a premium for aluminum cans throughout its existence.
“We started doing canning during the epidemic shift, and the tariffs were already in place, so I can’t really talk that much about the ‘good days,’ for lack of better expression,” Hansen said. “So, for us, there’s a kind of huge black hole, where we do not really know when we’re going to get our cans. Companies are doing a great job in trying to fight the good fight with logistics, but still, there’s a point where we’re just like, ‘Yeah. , We ordered them, and they will be here Some day. ”
To deal with the shortage of cans born from the tariffs, breweries of all sizes must predict sales months in advance. It can tie up thousands of dollars in materials for small breweries, with no idea when the paid product will arrive.
In December, Second Pitch became SA’s last brewery to put canned goods on HEB shelves. Friday packages of the brewery’s Hometown Lager, Summer Lightning Ale and Meet in the Middle IPA are now available at some grocery stores. While Hansen has always planned to distribute his breweries on a larger retail scale, the aluminum crush does not make it any easier.
“We’re paying for these pallets of cans up front, so we’re probably talking about close to six thousand of the cans we’re waiting for at any given time. This upcoming order may bring us to the end of the summer, but it’s a lot of capital to spend in advance,” he said. “hopefully [the shipment] Comes before we need it, but a forecast of four to six weeks … that’s a lot. Especially when you’re trying to run a business, and so many others [brewers] They are trying to make their preservation even now. “
By 2020, breweries had bought more than 41 billion cans and bottles of aluminum, making aluminum the largest input cost in American beer production, according to the Beer Institute’s trading group. What’s more, in 2021 alone, the U.S. beverage industry paid $ 463 million for the kind of tariffs the Trump administration levied on aluminum and steel.
The brewery also reports that end users – including American breweries – have been charged a customs duty regardless of whether the metal is intended to be charged based on its contents or source.
“With the cost of fuel and commodities at an all-time high, American families and businesses are feeling the burden under the high cost of living. This new study shows that tariffs on aluminum continue to raise prices on American consumers and businesses,” said Beer McGribb, President and CEO of the Beer Institute. The quickest way to alleviate these high prices for American businesses and families is to abolish tariffs. “
So what can beer consumers do to help small breweries struggle with the drip effect of tariffs? Beyond contacting elected officials and asking for tariffs to be abolished, Hansen of Second Pitch recommends asking narrators to stock up on a larger amount of craft breweries.
“HEB is a fantastic company, they really listen to their customers. So if you say to your HEB, ‘Hey, I want more craft beer options, San Antonio options,’ it’s a big win,” he said. “This is true of all San Antonio breweries. If you want to see Second Pitch, Weathered Souls, Highwheel, tell your grocery store and tell them you want to see it on a regular basis. It will help us spend a lot.”
So many restaurants, so little time. Discover the latest restaurant news in San Antonio with our Flavor Friday newsletter.