HOUSTON - With summer weather heating up, consumers may find it difficult to find a cold, canned beverage to quench their thirst. An unexpected consequence of the pandemic is a shortage of aluminum cans.
At the City Orchard Cidery, which just opened in January, the taproom was supposed to be the main source of business for the hard ciders, wine, and beers that are made there.
COVID-19 changed everything. Curbside and grocery sales of canned cider have grown faster than planned. It was the only way to move the product that was sitting in the tanks.
"We've, since, canned four products that we had not planned on canning," says co-owner Patrick Kwiatkowski, "At least, not this fast."
They are the same circumstances wherever canned beverages are produced. With people stuck at home, they stocked up on supplies, including beverages because they couldn't go to closed bars and restaurants.
"There was a real rush to can product that were never intended to be canned, before," says Kwiatkowski.
An industry report suggests demand for cans surged 30% in March and April. As a result, those cans are hard to find as suppliers struggle to keep up.
A recent sign posted in an H-E-B grocery over the weekend warned shoppers of limited supplies, though the company says the problem has been resolved.
For others, though, the challenge remains.
For Patrick Kwiatkowski's small business, it means buying whatever he can find, when he can find it, just to get any.
"We can't afford not to have them, and it adds pressure to our bottom line to buy so many in advance," he says, "But it's better than running out of cans and having no product.
The can demand will not, likely, ease up as the busy summer season begins.
Manufacturers can only make them so fast, and supplies are spoken-for, even faster than that.