Australians facing beer supply snags ahead of Christmas

14 December 2021

Australian trade bodies and beer companies have warned customers may not be able to purchase their favourite drinks in time for the Christmas season due to shortages of aluminium and shipping pallets.

Aluminiun, used to make cans, is in short supply due to a shortage of magnesium from China, while pallets have suffered due to a shortage of timber.

CEO of Alcohol Beverages Australia, Andrew Wilsmore, said: “Some products may not be available due to global supply chain disruptions and local pallet availability which is hampering the delivery of beer, wine and spirits to retail and hospitality businesses.

“All parts of the industry’s supply chain are working closely together to resolve any delays and minimise the impact on drinkers being able to enjoy their favourite brand this year.”

Wilsmore said while there will be a smaller choice of drinks on offer at shops and pubs, he said there would still be “plenty of drinks to choose from."

Last month the government established a taskforce to address the shortage of pallets, which allow stock to be moved more easily around warehouses.

Two of the country’s largest beer companies, Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) and Lion, warned delays and lower production meant retailers including alcohol retailer BWS have had to impose limits on the amount customers can purchase from shops, according to the Guardian

Sales director Peter Bingeman at CUB said problems were caused by limited supplies of pallets and aluminium, rather than a beer shortage. He said: “To be clear, we are not facing shortages of VB, Carlton Draught, Great Northern, Carlton Dry, or Pure Blonde.”

Bingeman said he expected alcohol limits in BWS stores to be lifted next week, but there were international supply chain issues for the Mexican beer Corona, which is imported by CUB.

“However, we expect supply will continue to arrive in Australia in the lead-up to Christmas and we are distributing it fairly to retailers across Australia to help limit shortages,” he said.

Sales director Warwick Parks at Lion said the company was being affected by “a number of supply chain challenges, including an industry-wide shortage of hardwood pallets”.

“We have been prioritising production of our top-selling pack formats in response to the national shortage of hardwood pallets and other supply chain challenges. This means that while some pack formats for certain brands may go out of stock, the vast majority of our main pack formats will still be available right through the festive season.”

Lion said it had been “working behind the scenes to secure additional pallets and source alternatives to keep the beer moving”.

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