Beer drinkers carry the can of high aluminium costs as US tariffs take hold

In America, the price of beer may increase if brewers pass on the 10% surcharge on imported aluminium to consumers, while bourbon could be on Europe’s retaliatory list.

Aluminium is increasingly the packaging of choice for beer brewers worldwide, and it’s likely they will face higher raw material costs once any tariff comes into effect.

A fifth of all aluminium consumed in the US goes towards goods packaging.

Major US beer producers have deep concerns over the prospect of larger overheads and thousands of job losses for the industry after the President proposed the tariffs – which he has now confirmed – last week.

Felipe Dutra, finance director for AB InBev, the brewing giant behind popular brand Budweiser, said about two million jobs depend on America’s beer industry.

He urged the Department of Commerce and Mr Trump to consider the impact of the tariffs.

Rival MillerCoors also said it was disappointed.

“Like most brewers, we are selling an increasing amount of our beers in aluminium cans, and this action will cause aluminium prices to rise. It is likely to lead to job losses across the beer industry,” it said in a statement.

The Beer Institute, a trade group representing around 5,000 US brewers, estimates the tariff will drive costs up by $348m (£250M) annually, threatening more than 20,000 jobs.

Chief executive Jim McGreevy challenged Mr Trump’s assertion that the tariffs against imported aluminium and steel were in the interests of national security.

He urged the Department of Commerce “to exclude imported aluminium and cansheet used to make beer cans from these tariffs so as not to unnecessarily increase costs on American business and put jobs at risk”.

Ultimately, beer drinkers could carry the can for the tariffs, as any price rises could be passed onto them.

Responding earlier this week to the tariff threat, European Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom told journalists that certain types of bourbon are on a retaliatory list, alongside peanut butter, cranberries and orange juice.

She joked that Europeans would be able to “plan their whisky drinking”, as soon as the full list was made public.


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