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Aluminum shortage affecting local businesses

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Posted at 8:25 PM, Feb 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-27 22:07:34-05

More and more companies are turning to canned beverages, but many factors are leading to an aluminum shortage. Local businesses in San Luis Obispo are seeing the impact of the shortage that began at the start of the pandemic.

“Cans have all by themselves been a supply chain nightmare for almost a better part of a year and a half," said the owner of Central Coast Brewing, George Peterson.

Labor shortages, the pandemic, supply chain issues, and now tensions between Russia and Ukraine are adding to the scarcity of aluminum.

According to Market Insider, Russia produces around six percent of the world’s aluminum. The shortage and price increases have the hardest impact on small businesses, like local breweries.

“Prices have gone up on aluminum, shipping prices have gone up on aluminum, availability is way down. So when I can just say, 'Hey, we need 10 palates of cans,' now it’s 'How about six? How about four? How about next month'?" said Peterson.

Central Coast Brewing’s owner says they got lucky because they have been established for almost 25 years and having a larger warehouse allowed them to store the cans for longer periods of time. They became the helping hand for newer businesses in the industry.

“So we were actually acting as kind of the go-between for some of the newer guys in the industry that couldn’t get cans so we were able to get cans and give it to them, you know, to shuffle through," said Peterson.

Despite the preparation, they say they also had problems.

“A week here we missed a canning day, a week here we missed a labeling day. We had a shipping problem when the cans froze in Michigan on a truck," said Peterson.

The owner of Laurel Lane Market in San Luis Obispo, Michel Grandour, says he’s seen the impact on sodas, too, with many companies sticking to only their main flavor and reducing the number of cans for other soda flavors. He says Coca-Cola is one company not making their 10-ounce cans anymore.

“Last week all the beer companies increased their price by $2 or $5 a case. Some of them went up $5 per case. Sodas too. They started back in January increasing their prices," said Grandour.

These price increases impact the prices consumers see at stores.

“Customers complain about the increased price, but that’s what it takes, we can’t help it. We have to make our money too, you know, to keep the door open," said Grandour.