“This is taking up way too much time and energy trying to figure out why,” said a patron of beer, specifying, “off-the-record.” And then he added, “Hasn’t anyone figured out the full scope of effects when you start an international trade war? I mean, that’s how the colonists reacted to the tea tax, and that’s how beer became our national beverage of choice.”
Good thinking happens at a brewpub.
The major part of newsfeeds to my inbox this past week have been about the effects of the proposed tariffs from the point of view of business and industry leaders on national and international levels. Here’s an overview from where I sit:
"Imports of primary aluminum and cansheet used to manufacture beer cans do not threaten national security," said Jim McGreevy, Beer Institute president and CEO, in an interview on CNCB. “Tariffs are taxes, and taxes are job killers and prosperity killers.”
MillerCoors, in a news release said they were “disappointed with Trump’s announcement” and that if the tax is put into place, it could lead overall to losses of ”upwards of 140,000 jobs; the estimate for beer is about 20,000; that’s brewers, brewery workers, waitresses, bartenders [and] truck drivers.”
“If there are duties on aluminum coming to this country, it will obviously get passed on to us and the customer,” Tim Weiner, senior commodity risk manager at Molson Coors Brewing Co., said in June 2017. “Our prices will go up.”
“About 2 million jobs depend on America’s beer industry. We urge the Department of Commerce and U.S. President Trump to consider the impact of trade restriction tariffs,” said Felipe Dutra, AB InBev’s chief financial officer.
"Even a small tariff will result in greater uncertainty about prices, supply, financing and would dramatically curtail investment and hiring in the United States," Robert Budway, the Can Manufacturers Institute president, said in a statement.
The Brewers Association says that “a one-cent increase per can – because of a tariff – will cost the can industry upwards of $960 million.”
Why is canned beer a good/better/best option? According to data, shipping beer in cans is roughly 30% lighter than shipping in bottles. If you’re a consumer carrying beer from point A to point B, cans are a lot easier to carry than are bottles. Sunlight, oxygen and heat affect longevity of beer tasting just as the brewer intends. Beer in aluminum is impervious to sunlight and is subject to lower oxygen levels than in bottles. Aluminum cans are proven to be more eco-friendly than are bottles.
All reasons why Sun King became Indiana’s first modern era craft brewery to have canned beer. Sun King opened July 1, 2009; in 2010 they packaged their line-up trio in cans. Ball Brothers, Indiana’s ubiquitous glass bottling company, got into canning in 2015. So it’s cost savings, fresher product, ease for consumer, lesser footprint at the bottom line.
“We don't know enough to comment other than everyone from Ball Corporation to NPR is telling us that the cost of cans will go up, so therefore the price of beer would likely follow…,” said Elizabeth Belange, Sun King Brewing Company promotions director.
“I am sure that this will be a talking point at the Brewers Association's hill climb in early June of this year. I will be participating on behalf of Indiana and the BA. We have already received some information related to this issue from the BA,” emailed Rob Caputo, executive director of Brewers of Indiana Guild.
The irony, pointed out a pundit sipping an Indiana craft beer, is Trump mostly is hurting the very people who voted him in — the Bud Light drinkers. He points out, I can go buy a growler of local fresh beer and save lots of money.
NUVO’s Renee column on “Eco-friendly Tips for Drinking Alcohol,” posted March 5, 2018, points out: “A growler fill of fresh, local beer is always first choice,” writes Renee. “The only thing that’s disposable from a growler is the lid and you’re supporting the local economy. If a growler isn’t an option, I typically choose cans over bottles. While both aluminum and glass are infinitely recyclable, glass has had some recycling challenges related to transportation and sorting in Indiana. Glass IS still accepted and recycled – and I understand that Republic is working on an advanced sorting technology that will improve the quality of material – so if you find yourself indulging from a bottle, please still put it in the recycle bin.”
Even though beer is my beat, and that’s what I zeroed in on, I learned from reports that far more impacted are the auto, construction and aerospace industries, according to a statement by David Dollar, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s John L. Thornton China Center. He pointed out the cost for products will rise exponentially and harm the economy. Representative Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania pointed out the effect for Hershey Co. Aluminum is major factor for their packaging.
Furthermore, a tariff war will affect U.S. exports, particularly agricultural products, a case in point being barley and hops. The U.S. exports far more barley and hops for a plus trade balance to the U.S. economy. How many jobs will be lost with a loss of exports?
So, what’s a consumer’s role in all this? Consider exercising your rights as a citizen to voice your opinion by contacting your U.S. Senators and Representatives. Here’s how:
For the record, Mr. Trump in his latest tweets claims he does not drink beer; Mr. Pence drinks bottled O’Doul’s alcohol free beer every Friday night.
For further looks into the tariffs impact on the beer industry and our economy, read below: