As any beer geek knows, aluminum cans are all the rage. They’re cheap, they’re light, they’re eco-friendly (at least, friendlier than bottles), and they make a great canvas for beer label designs. For these reasons and more, cans are great, and have become the package of choice among brewers large and small across the country.
But in the latest “Trump is the worst,” the White House announced its decision on Thursday to impose tariffs on aluminum and steel. Along with signaling that we’re cool with starting a trade war, the tariff will have a direct impact on the cost of cansheet aluminum, the type of aluminum used for beverage containers.
As such, the tariff will impact brewers that can beers, and according to the Brewers Association (BA), that’s a lot of them.
The tariff is happening as a result of an investigation conducted by the Department of Commerce to determine whether the import of aluminum and steel poses a national security risk. The BA says this import does not pose a threat, and has been working with the Can Manufacturers Institute, the Beer Institute, and the American Beverage Association to lobby Congress, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Defense, and the Administration, asserting that cansheet aluminum has a “critical” economic impact on thousands of small U.S. manufacturers.
According to the BA, 98 percent of cansheet aluminum used in the U.S. is produced in the U.S. One component, primary aluminum (bauxite), is imported from other countries, such as Canada. Aluminum cansheet is made from recycled cans, scrap metal, and primary aluminum; bauxite is not available in the U.S. in “commercially viable quantities or quality,” the BA says.
According to the Beer Institute, the proposed 10 percent tariff on aluminum will cost the U.S. beer industry more than $340 million per year; and, according to the BA, even a one cent increase per can could cost the can industry upwards of $960 million.
The plan has also prompted political backlash around the world, NPR reports.
The tariff could take effect as early as next week, but there is still an opportunity for President Trump to exempt some countries, the BA says. In statement released today, BA president and CEO, Bob Pease, and director, Paul Gatza, said:
“Craft breweries are operating in almost every U.S. congressional district and employ more than 130,000 Americans in manufacturing and service industry jobs. The Brewers Association strongly opposes the imposition of tariffs on imported cansheet aluminum and cautions against any action that would result in increased prices for small and independent brewers and their customers. We will continue to work with the Trump administration, Congress and the coalition to mitigate the impacts of these tariffs on our members.”
As if we needed another reason for IPA can releases to be “limited.”