The Great Aluminum Can Shortage of 2020

we’re running out of cans! what does this portend for the future of sparkling water?

It seemed like the bubbleverse was a safe haven in the hellscape that is this year, but the forces of chaos have been nipping at the edges recently.

The great aluminum can shortage of 2020 is starting to affect not only the craft beer industry, but anything that comes in cans, including, of course, our precious sparkling water.

actual instacart exchange

Why is there an aluminum can shortage?

We’d noticed that the sparkling water section in our local grocery stores have been barren lately, and kind of just chalked it up to either the general, vague supply chain issues that we’ve been dealing with for months, or sparkling water hoarders, and/or maybe we naively thought that the general populace was finally embracing the sparkle in a major way, and that production would quickly catch up to demand.

But although all these things contribute, it’s worse than any of those things. Turns out, there’s actually a shortage of aluminum cans specifically.

According to USA Today, there was already a looming shortage of cans, due to the explosion of interest in both hard seltzers and sparkling waters over the last year or two.

Covid-19 collapsed this house of cards, as people stopped going out, demand for canned beverages (especially beer) shot through the roof, and existing manufacturing capacity was thoroughly saturated.

And if that wasn’t enough, the Trump administration has been rattling their aluminum sabres at Canada, threatening tariffs on imported aluminum. Just last week, according to the BBC, the administration reversed the planned tariffs, although it warns that if too much aluminum is imported into the US, the tariffs will be reinstated.

The Brewers Association actually put out a “Can Shortage Advisory” on July 31st, noting that “[m]ore can manufacturing capacity is due to come online by the end of 2021.”

That’s over a year away, and we worry a little.

Not only about our ability to have whatever sparkling water we want at our beck & call, but mostly we worry about the innovative and vulnerable small companies that have sprung up like mushrooms after a sparkling rain.

They might not have the ability to withstand a decrease in production, deal with logistics issues that arise, or outbid larger beer or soda companies for the limited stock of cans.

So we reached out to a few of our favorite boutique sparkling water brands to get their read on the situation!

sent to us by a friend, not sure if this sign is true but it’s charming

Aura Bora, a brand-new brand that only just emerged from their herbal Californian womb a few months ago, told us “The aluminum can shortage will definitely hurt boutique sparkling water brands. Longer lead times, shorter supply, and sometimes, higher prices will force small brands to pay more than they can afford.”

The can shortage is scaring me .

Paul Voge, Co-Founder & CEO of Aura Bora

It scares us, too, Paul.

So, listen: do yourself and the world a favor, and order some of the best sparkling water in the bubbleverse from Aura Bora. In a time of darkness, we all need to support the lightbringers. (plus, they’re offering free shipping!)

Dram Apothecary, herbal bitters & cocktail syrup alchemists from the foothills of the Rockies, who have expanded into the bubbleverse with their CBD (and non-CBD) sparkling waters, are a little more optimistic:

“The can shortage hasn’t been a huge deal to us, as we already had a good relationship with our producer. We are having to wait 7-8 weeks for cans now, but we’ve built the additional time into our production schedule.”

Everything has been slowed down due to Covid, so we’re just being flexible and patient!

– Shae Whitney, Founder of DRAM Apothecary

So at the very least, here’s some proof that there are definitely calming benefits to CBD!

In fact, CBD sparkling water might be our best tool in the 2020 anti-despair arsenal. Get some from DRAM.

How are the larger brands faring? We reached out to AHA, the recently-launched sparkling water arm of Coca-Cola, and received this in response:

we are henceforth asking everyone to address us as “dear bubble”

Can’t shake the feeling that they’re shading the Orange Grapefruit flavor, but they did offer to send us a coupon, so that’s something.

AHA sparkling water shortage

Jan 2021: We can’t officially confirm this, but we’ve noticed huge volatility in the availability of AHA over the last month or so. It seems like most of the time the shelves are barren, then a big load comes in all at once. The Citrus Green Tea flavor seems pretty consistent, but our precious Orange Grapefruit is feast or famine. We try not to hoard them all when we see them.

We’ve got more feelers out to a number of other sparkling water brands, we’ll keep you posted here as the situation develops!

So now what?

Well, we’re keeping an eye on it. Keep YOUR eye here on the Bubbleverse for the latest updates.

And if this turns into a full-blown sparkling water shortage crisis, you’re def invited to our bubblebunker.


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