Packaging problems triggering Christmas beer shortages

By BeertownNZ Fri, 15 Dec 2017 National

A national shortage of bottles and kegs means beer is stuck in breweries at the busiest time of the year.

Beertown.NZ understands brewers are being forced to halt production because they can’t get enough packaging to allow them to empty their tanks. Kegs and bottles are both in short supply around the country, and are expected to stay this way until the New Year.

Yesterday Lion reported “a logistical delivery issue” affecting “Lion products across the portfolio”, including soft drinks and kegged beer*. After speaking to brewers and packaging suppliers, it is apparent that the logistical choke point is sourcing bottles and kegs, and the same problems are being experienced by craft brewers big and small.

While I usually do not report anonymous comments, I am this time because brewers are understandably reluctant to point the finger at packaging suppliers, who themselves are frustrated with the situation. 

The shortage comes at the peak time for brewers, who rely on summer sales for much of their annual income. I have heard reports of tanks sitting full for two weeks or longer because no packaging options were available.

This is also causing strain between production brewers and contract brewers, as production brewers are forced to cease brewing because contractors cannot remove their beer.

One packaging supplier told Beertown.NZ that there is no obvious single cause for the shortage. He says it may be due to an overall increase in beer production during 2017, citing one leading craft brewer which increased production by 2 million litres this year. Startups including Boneface, Urbanaut and b-Studio have also led to increased demand, and packaging suppliers who predicted demand based on December 2016 data may have been caught by surprise. The unusually sunny spring/early summer may have also increased demand, speaking personally anyway.

Beertown.NZ says this is time for beer drinkers to revive the Spirit of Dunkirk. Dig out your old flagons, steins, and emergency water tanks. Take them to your local brewery and offer to provide tank space at no charge. Tell them Beertown sent you and see what they say.


Martin Craig

*Off topic, but why, why illustrate an article about Lion Red shortage with a photo of Fork Brewing’s Kelly Ryan in the Malthouse? Damn man-bun wearing, craft beer sipping Te Aro hipsters!

By BeertownNZ Fri, 15 Dec 2017 National