The Real Reason There's An Aluminum Can Shortage

After a long day of working from home — or an exasperating day of working out in the open — you deserve to treat yourself to a can of ice-cold beer. Or, better yet, a cold can of soda. Who doesn't want to hear that can pop open after hours of stress? You're not the only one drinking from home these days, but this trend has its consequences. With thousands of Americans opting to crack open a can at home, rather than inside a bar or restaurant, beverage companies are seeing a remarkable shortage of one of their most important supplies — aluminum cans.

That's right. So many Americans are grabbing six-packs that even companies like Coca-Cola admit it's created a bit of a supply struggle for the industry, according to USA Today. The pandemic-induced trend, coupled with efforts to avoid plastic bottles, has manufacturers scrambling to meet the need for more cans.

"The can industry is working 24/7 on meeting the unprecedented demand," Robert Budway of the Can Manufacturers Institute told USA Today.

The shortage comes at a critical time: as COVID-19 cases continue to rise, some medical experts, like Dr. Anthony Fauci, are urging states to once again close their indoor restaurants and bars (via Delish).

Scaling back on supplies

This isn't the first shortage caused by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Over the last several months, Americans have struggled to find toilet paper, flour, and, even more recently, there has been a coin shortage, with retailers like Walmart asking customers to not pay in cash, according to Food & Wine. With fewer shoppers handing over their little piles of change, stores have lost their "normal circulation of coin," according to the Federal Reserve.

So what does this mean for aluminum cans? According to USA Today, some brands are holding off on their less-popular products so they can prioritize their most beloved items. For example, Coca-Cola is staving off its production of Cherry Coke Zero. While the fruit-flavored drink isn't the brand's most popular one, consumers still noticed and took to Twitter, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

The aluminum conundrum has made a dent in the beer industry, too. Quite a few brands have seen shortages, including Modelo, Corona, Coors Light, and Dos Equis, according to Forbes. A good chunk of those popular brands are based in Mexico, where non-essential breweries have closed as the country continues to battle the pandemic. Some beer manufacturers may scale back on their products that have "less traditional packaging," according to Forbes. That four-pack of Dos Equis you were planning to buy might not be so easy to find.

However, let's not forget the can's cheap, sustainable cousin: The glass bottle.