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Ska Brewing is putting labels over preprinted cans to manage the shortage. Photo courtesy of Ska Brewing

The prolonged aluminum can shortage won't end anytime soon, the chief executive of Ball Corp. tells Axios, quashing the hopes of brewers for a return to normal.

  • "This year is going to continue to be challenging," says John Hayes, the CEO at the Broomfield-based can giant.

What's happening: A surge in demand for cans amid the pandemic, paired with a shortage of aluminum, continues to plague the beverage industry.

  • The lighter weight and convenience of cans makes it the preferred packaging for new beverage lines, from carbonated water and seltzers to wine and cocktails.
  • The competition is pinching brewers, particularly small ones who've shifted from serving beer over the bar to packaging brews due to pandemic shutdowns.

Flashback: Some Colorado brewers adapted by affixing new labels on preprinted cans and others even moved back to glass bottles last summer.

  • "It's certainly not going to be the clean look we're known for," Dave Thibodeau, Ska Brewing's founder, said at the time.

What's new: Ball Corp., the world's largest supplier of beverage cans, is investing more than $1.5 billion to increase capacity to meet demand that Hayes says the industry hasn't seen since the 1970s.

  • Ball makes more than 350 million cans a day at its facilities around the world.
  • Yes, but: "Until the new capacity is up and running, it's going to continue to be challenging" to meet demand, Hayes added.

Of note: To address the supply shortage for can makers, U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, a Republican whose Colorado district includes more than 50 breweries, reintroduced legislation to investigate price setting and ensure a fair market for purchases.

  • "These breweries and other beverages companies are currently experiencing unfair market prices for aluminum prices," Rep. Buck said in a statement.
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Go deeper

Apr 29, 2021 - Economy & Business

Ford to lose half its Q2 production due to chip shortage

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The semiconductor shortage that is roiling the global auto industry will get worse before it gets better, Ford Motor Chief Executive Jim Farley warned Wednesday.

Why it matters: The chip shortage, which GM President Mark Reuss called the worst supply chain crisis in his career, means car buyers will continue to face fewer choices and higher prices.

  • And it's making the industry's pandemic recovery even harder.

Elon Musk suspends Tesla purchases with bitcoin

Elon Musk. Photo: Liesa Johannssen-Koppitz/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Consumers can no longer buy Tesla vehicles with bitcoin, CEO Elon Musk announced on Twitter Wednesday.

What he's saying: Musk cited the environmental concerns associated with bitcoin — the cryptocurrency has a massive carbon footprint — as his reasoning behind Wednesday's decision.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
44 mins ago - Science

The cicadas are a preview of a buggy future

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Trillions of Brood X cicadas are now emerging throughout parts of the mid-Atlantic and Midwestern U.S.

Why it matters: Most immediately, because they can be as loud as a Metallica show when they're singing in concert.