Beer, Soda, and Seltzer May Become Scarce as Carbonation Production Slows
A nearly dire shortage of carbon dioxide brought about by the disruptive nature of the coronavirus pandemic is leading to a potential shortage of carbonated drinks that rely on CO2. Distributors are all increasingly concerned that unless the supply of CO2 is addressed, there will be little-to-no beer, soda, or seltzer for shoppers to purchase at their local grocery stores.
The outbreak of the COVID-19 contagion has disrupted many supply chains, and has even led one leading meat processor to warn of a shortage. According to Forbes, the production of carbon dioxide is now down 30 percent. The report states:
In the past two weeks suppliers have started breaking contracts and preparing for shortages as five more ethanol plants have either closed or significantly reduced output. Of the 45 U.S. ethanol plants that sell carbon dioxide, 34 are closed, while other sources from ammonia plants and oil refineries are also declining due to the crisis.
"The supply is rapidly deteriorating," Geoff Cooper, president of the Renewable Fuels Association told Forbes. "Absent of some intervention to keep these facilities running, it will further deteriorate. We're on the verge of something fairly disruptive. It's going to be hard to come by."
"A serious crisis will hit in May without government help," claims the Compressed Gas Association CEO Rich Gottwald, who expects production to reach a more than 70 percent shortfall within the next month. "It continues to get worse," Gottwald told Forbes. "There will be shortages. The entire food industry understands the challenge now. Everything is so interconnected."
The limited production of carbon dioxide is negatively impacting the distribution of beer, sodas and seltzer, as the demand for these products is somewhat mitigated by the nearly nationwide closing of bars and restaurants. It's not too difficult to imagine bars and restaurants recouping some of their disastrous losses by seeking beer and soda they are currently holding in stock. Cold comfort, to be sure.