The holidays are a time of wining and dining, and that will be a problem this upcoming holiday season. Supply chain issues are heading towards the beverage industry, affecting soda, energy drinks, beer, and more. The average grocery store has witnessed a 5 to 10 percent shortage of products, however, that number is even higher for beverages with about 13 percent nowhere to be found on the shelves. There are shortages in waters, ice teas, and even canned cocktails. Geoff Freeman, the chief executive of the Consumer Brand Association said, “All the talk around the holidays is about what might be under the Christmas tree, but not enough attention is paid to what consumers are already dealing with.”
Much of this shortage comes from a lack of bottles and cans, along with trucking and shipping problems, missing ingredients, and bad weather. All of these have left grocery stores in a frenzy, trying to come up with solutions as to how to fill their shelves. This has been going on for quite some time, and not just in the beverage industry, but food supply as a whole. This has all contributed to the highest inflation we’ve seen in three decades. Freeman explains that empty shelves illustrate “demand unlike what we’ve seen in recent history running headfirst into problems with access to ingredients and materials. The pandemic itself also changed the way in which people buy. For example, with restaurants sitting down, bottlers focused more multipacks and bigger packaging for people to load up on at home.
Beverage companies shifted their focus slightly and paid more attention to branding and flavors while cutting down on the total number of drinks they made. But when people started leaving their houses more, it created a large increase in demand, more than producers were expecting. Sing;e-serve packaging became popular again. Cullen Gilchrist, chief executive of Union Kitchen in Washington, D.C. said, “We are seeing waves of products out of stock, then back in stock, while other products are just out of stock. Sometimes it’s sizes or formats – bottles versus cans, glass versus plastic – that are out of stock, or just some flavors. The challenge is how to build the shelves with products and plan the layout of the store when it’s uncertain what will show up or not.