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Pandemic bottle and can shortage causes alcohol shortage

Brewers are able to produce the alcohol but packaging shortages mean they can’t finish the product.
Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 6:03 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - There is more collateral damage from the COVID pandemic and it’s hitting people where it hurts: an alcohol shortage.

Crissy Antoine owns Wheelin on the Rocks Bar and was so relieved when she could reopen at full speed after having to close due to the pandemic. But as she tries to make up for lost revenue, she’s running into frustration as she tries to order alcoholic products from her distributors.

“I can’t get a lot of beers that are our favorite sellers,” says Antoine, who adds that what she can get is at a premium “The charge is a little bit more and cuts into my revenue.”

Mac McHugh is the Executive Vice President and General Manager at the Heidelberg Distributing Company, the largest beer and spirits distributor in Ohio. McHugh says he’s been in this business for 43 years and has “never seen anything like this. We can literally sell when we get the product in.... anything we have.”

The pandemic forced unscheduled production changes to accommodate home drinkers as opposed to bar and restaurant drinkers who usually consume beer from kegs.
Add to that a log jam in the global supply chain, starting with an ink and glass shortage.

“It’s not only they can’t get the glass,” says McHugh. “They can’t get the crowns that go on the glass to hold the bottle in place. They’re having a hard time with glue to hold the packages together because some of that glue is only made in China.”

And the packaging is the key to the shortage.

“We can produce the beer,” says McHugh. “Our brewers have plenty of beer. They just don’t have bottles and kegs and cans to put it in.”

McHugh says the shortage is estimated to last through the end of this year or the first quarter of next year.

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