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Inflation in the aluminum industry could force breweries to charge more for craft beers

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Posted at 4:20 PM, Dec 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-10 18:18:38-05

NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Supply chain issues in the aluminum industry are causing local breweries to make tough decisions. Some breweries are anticipating having to pay double the price for a stack of cans starting next year.

“Our prices, after the new year, are going to go up anywhere from 37 to 50 percent," Chris Meyers, a co-founder of Crane Brewing, said.

Meyers is hoping for the best after his longtime can distributor, Royal Packaging LLC, made significant price jumps beginning next year. It is another financial burden to an already slim margin of revenue for their business.

“Especially being a distribution brewery, we sell our beer for a third of what ends up hitting the shelves,” Meyers said.

He said can beer used to be the affordable option. Not only that, many breweries in the Kansas City area relied on canning during the pandemic for to-go orders.

Meyers says he is shifting focus to draft sales, hoping that will help with sustainability.

“When they see those prices in any industry going up, it's not really about greed," Meyers said. "It's just people are having to make adjustments."

A 30 to 50 percent increase in can prices could mean consumers pay up to two dollars more on their favorite six pack. Meyers and Bryce Schaffter, owner of Cinder Block Brewery, said they will not be changing prices for now and hope they will not have to.

“The problem with us as a small brewer, pricing, we have to try to stay competitive with the large craft brewers,” Schaffter said.

For Schaffter, this means taking drastic measures. He paid $37,000 upfront for a semi-truck load of cans after calling up six different distributors.

“I knew I had to do it. If I didn't do it, we could be in a vulnerable position and not be able to keep our prices where we were,” Schaffter said.

On top of the already-existing scarcity and inflation of raw materials, the recent news of price adjustments come as another blow. Schaffter anticipates his current damage control will last him through next fall.

“I’m just kind of hoping that we can get through this hump and maybe the supply chain stabilizes and things get better," Schaffter said. "But it can’t keep going this direction."

KSHB 41 reached out to about 20 breweries in the Kansas City area. Five responded saying supply chain issues have impacted the imports of not only aluminum, but also grains, hops, apparel and other necessary ingredients.