For Craft Beverage Makers, New Steel And Aluminum Tariffs Bring Uncertainty

Date: Mar 28, 2018

Tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump on some imported steel and aluminum went into effect late last week. Several countries have received exemptions from those tariffs, but still some industries in the U.S. are wary of them — including craft beer and cider makers.

If you drink craft beer or cider, you may have noticed a recent trend: a shift away from glass bottles and toward cans. The idea is that cans are lighter, cheaper to ship and can be easier to recycle.

Speaking in his company’s canning facility in Burlington, Justin Heilenbach — the president and co-founder of Citizen Cider — says if the cost of aluminum cans goes up, that could get passed on to the consumer. The same goes for the price of kegs, which are made out of steel.

Right now, Citizen Cider owns its kegs, but if the price of imported steel kegs increases, Heilenbach says the company might switch to leasing kegs from a middleman.

“Or we may pass it on in the cost of a keg,” Heilenbach says. “It’s not ideal because the draught market is hyper-competitive, and it’s all about price.”

Heilenbach says the main impact of the tariffs so far is uncertainty.

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