US could run out of beer and soda during coronavirus pandemic as CO2 supplies go flat – The Sun

FEARS are growing about a looming beer shortage across the United States as carbon dioxide supplies fizzle out.

Brewers and soft-drink makers use carbon dioxide, or CO2, for carbonation, which gives beer and soda fizz — but production has fallen because of a fall in demand for gasoline.

Ethanol producers are a key provider of CO2 to the food industry, as they capture that gas as a byproduct of ethanol production and sell it in large quantities.

But ethanol, which is blended into the nation’s gasoline supply, has seen production fall sharply due to the drop in gasoline demand as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Gasoline demand is down by more than 30 per cent in the United States.

The lack of ethanol output is disrupting this highly specialized corner of the food industry, as 34 of the 45 US ethanol plants that sell CO2 have idled or cut production, said Renewable Fuels Association Chief Executive Geoff Cooper.

CO2 suppliers to beer brewers have increased prices by about 25 per cent due to reduced supply, said Bob Pease, chief executive officer of the Brewers Association.


The trade group represents small and independent US craft brewers, who get about 45 per cent of their CO2 from ethanol producers.

Mr Pease said: "The problem is accelerating. Every day we’re hearing from more of our members about this."

In an April 7 letter to Vice President Mike Pence, the Compressed Gas Association (CGA) said production of CO2 had fallen about 20 per cent and could be down by 50 per cent by mid-April without relief, CGA CEO Rich Gottwald said in the letter. 

Meat producers are also feeling the pinch, as they use CO2 in processing, packaging, preservation and shipment.

Orion Melehan, CEO of Santa Cruz, California-based LifeAID, a specialty beverage company, said two of his production partners are looking for alternative CO2 sources.

“It does have us up at night figuring out what our options are,” Melehan said. 

“It highlights the laws of unintended consequences.”

A spokeswoman for National Beverage Corp, whose products include LaCroix, said the company sources from a number of national CO2 suppliers and does not anticipate a supply issue.

Coca-Cola Co, SodaStream owner PepsiCo Inc , wine and beer seller Constellation Brands Inc and several bottling companies did not respond to requests for comment

Walker Modic, environmental and social sustainability manager for Bell’s Brewery, said the Comstock, Michigan-based brewing company had “not experienced any curtailments or changes in the source of our CO2."

Source: Read Full Article