Supply chain disruptions have created shortages of everything from semiconductors to couch-cushion foam, driving prices of finished goods like cars and furniture to new levels. But the problem isn’t confined to big-ticket items; it’s happening with more prosaic products as well. An editor at this magazine was recently stunned to find the list price for what was normally a $6.99 can of peeled tomatoes had jumped to $79.99. And it wasn’t the result of a tomato shortage because different-sized cans of tomatoes (that is, not the 106-ounce size) were still being offered at their standard prices.
Researchers at the Metropolitan State University of Denver may have just solved that riddle. In a recent study, the school found that supply/demand imbalances exacerbated by the pandemic have put the squeeze on aluminum can manufacturers. That, in turn, has triggered spikes in container prices that some food and beverage industry suppliers are calling a “candemic.”
The researchers noted that the tightening supply of aluminum cans is also affecting Colorado brewers, who now face price hikes and skyrocketing minimum order sizes for the basic cans they rely on. According to the school’s report, the shortage has been exacerbated by a surge in the consumption of canned beer as bars, restaurants, and taprooms shut down, triggering what researchers called a “tipple ripple” throughout the beer world—and, apparently, the processed-tomato sector as well.