Beverage producers struggling with aluminum can shortage

  • 2021-07-23
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - Nearly month-long hot weather has resulted in all-time highest sales volumes for Estonian beverage producers but also in problems in supply chains and a shortage of aluminum cans, the regional Tartu Postimees reports.

The extraordinary summer was preceded by a coronavirus wave in spring, which reduced opportunities for serving beverages at eateries and entertainment venues due to the established restrictions. With sales in stores only, a shortage of aluminum cans emerged and companies had to rapidly come up with alternative solutions for packaging.

Chairman of the management board of beverage maker A. Le Coq Tarmo Noop said that the factory's production lines have been working around the clock for some time already and that all batches are sold immediately. Even so, A. Le Coq has been unable to fully meet the demand.

"With our lines' production capacity being 12 million liters per month and our sales meanwhile totaling more by 15 million liters, our capacity is clearly insufficient," Noop said.

The stocks built up from earlier period, too, have been consumed faster than anticipated during the heatwave. The longtime head of the brewery said that he cannot recall any comparable results from the factory's history.

Water sales have grown nearly three times and beer sales two and a half times, according to Tartu Postimees.

The stocks of Southeast Estonia based drinking and mineral water bottling company AS Varska Vesi ran out already by Midsummer Day. The company's sales and marketing director Rauno Jogeva said that while Varska Vesi made thorough preparations for the summer, it could not predict such a long heatwave. Varska Vesi, too, is reaching sales records both in the domestic market as well as in Finland, Latvia and Lithuania and its production facilities are operating at full capacity.

Smaller companies have likewise seen their sales surge and much of the product is sold directly to customers.

"We have no surplus stock, there is rather a shortage of everything and our warehouse is empty, but everyone is experiencing that at the moment," CEO of the Puhaste brewery Ullar Kaljurand said.

Draft beer sales also rocket in summer and at least half of the production exits the brewery in this form. Packaging once more poses problems with draft beer as Puhaste uses disposable beer kegs instead of the classical reusable ones, and the former have now become more difficult to acquire. Small breweries can still cope with the situation relatively painlessly, even if the global deficit in aluminum cans also forces them to come up with alternative solutions, Kaljurand noted.

"Factories are not getting sufficient amounts of aluminum sheets to produce cans; even large companies are being told to buzz off by their good partners as they are unable to fulfill their orders," Kaljurand added. Puhaste's cooperation partner, too, has said that only a certain amount of cans will be available to order this year with no additions expected.

"There is a total can shortage in Europe in relation to the coronavirus crisis because during restaurant closures, the purchases were carried over to retail trade and the demand for cans grew around 30 percent," Noop added. "Can producers have been unable to cope with this growth in demand."