Beer makers have another headwind facing them caused by the novel coronavirus disease COVID-19: a potential shortage of CO2.
The significant economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S., as well as related global economic trends, has significantly affected overall demand and production of industrial manufacturing that leads to CO2 capture.
Many industrial manufacturers have already idled their plants due to diminished demand leading to a decrease in CO2 access for industrial gas suppliers. Certain industrial gas companies have been forced to ration available CO2 products among essential business users, including food and beverage manufacturing plants. Preliminary data show that production of CO2 has decreased by approximately 20%, and experts predict that CO2 production may be reduced by 50% by mid-April. A shortage in CO2 would impact the U.S. availability of fresh food, preserved food and beverages, including beer production.
Locally, shortages may or may not yet be apparent. In some areas, local suppliers still have adequate supply due to decreased demand from bars, breweries and restaurants. In other areas, CO2 suppliers have put rationing into effect, meaning reduced shipments to end users. Additionally, aggregate suppliers in some areas are beginning to see reduced shipments which will affect availability of CO2.
The Brewers Association is working with a coalition of industries dependent on CO2 to address the issue on the federal level. Led by the Compressed Gas Association, the coalition is seeking temporary, emergency federal assistance necessary to prevent shortages in CO2 by providing federal incentives to industrial manufacturers to put manufacturing plants that result in CO2 production back into service.
The Brewers Association recommends communicating with your local CO2 supplier to get an accurate picture of the situation in your area. Now is a good time to review your contract with your CO2 supplier to understand your and your supplier’s obligations and options. Minimize your CO2 use by maximizing your efficiency.