New Aluminum Tariff Could Raise the Price of Canned Beer
At midnight last night, new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum—a 25 percent and 10 percent tariff respectively—officially went into effect, and though the additional costs now associated with these commonly used metals will have repercussions in all sorts of industries, beer drinkers could eventually notice a bump in the price of canned beers, especially from smaller producers who may have a harder time eating any additional costs.
The beer industry has been keeping close tabs on the Trump administration since the moment the 45th president was sworn in, and from the get-go, the possibility of a wide range of tariffs has been a concern. The long looming threat of an aluminum tariff has been an especially high profile issue for producers of canned beverages who have been pleading for a reprieve from the plan since at least last July.
But now that the tariff is officially here, it’s time to talk dollars and cents. The latter is what will affect consumers. Colorado’s Oskar Blues Brewery—the grandfather of the canned craft beer trend—told the Denver Post that the new tariff means every case of canned beer could cost them about 20 to 24 cents more to produce, resulting in about $475,000 to $575,000 more in annual expenses. Though the brewer didn’t say it would immediately raise prices, that was one of a number of possible implications.
“Craft beer is already a very capital-intensive industry, (so) to instantly up our expenses due to an aluminum tariff would be at the expense of investing in growing jobs in our communities and could eventually make a price increase to the craft beer lover,” Oskar Blues marketing director Chad Melis told The Post. “It’s a competitive time in craft beer where additional marketing investment is mandatory to stand out in a crowded marketplace, so this additional expense will impede our ability to grow.”
Even big beer companies are worried about increased aluminum expenditures. “The tariff is going to add cost in America,” Pete Coors, chairman of the Molson Coors Brewing Company, told CNN. “I love what the president's done in most cases, but the tariff is basically a tax on people who use aluminum.”
Speaking of which, the average American drinks about 280 beers per year. Even if every one of those beers was canned, at about one cent a can as Oskar Blues suggests, the annual impact for the average drinker would only be about three bucks a year. Still, you know what you could buy with those three bucks? A 281st beer.