Trump Aluminum and Steel Tariffs Will Impact Idaho Beer Industry 

click to enlarge boisebrewing_harrisonberry.jpg

Harrison Berry

At the end of March, President Donald Trump imposed a 10-percent tariff on aluminum imported into the United States and a 25-percent tariff on imported steel. Boise Brewing Owner Collin Rudeen is one of many in the local beer industry, which includes 21 breweries in the Treasure Valley, concerned that the rising price of cans will spill over to beer drinkers. Others in the industry are confident the tariffs will not impact the beer market.

“At some point it will raise the cost of the product at the grocery store or will be less profitable,” Rudeen said. “In the end, the price increases for the consumer.”

Studies from the Brewers Association project a 1-cent increase per can. Breweries tend to order cans by the case and the minimum order for labeled cans is 200,000. Rudeen said breweries of all sizes will start to feel the effects of aluminum and steel tariffs when purchasing cans by the millions or installing 2-ton steel fermenters.

Sheila Francis, executive director of Idaho Brewers United, said she expects the 1-cent increase per can to cost the can industry more than $960 million. Francis said some breweries may absorb the additional cost to stay competitive and keep the price of their beer stable. The Brewers Association issued statements against the tariff, and Idaho Brewers United is supporting its national partners in the fight to keep aluminum and steel costs affordable for Idaho businesses.

“A lot of smaller breweries are getting into canning right now,” Francis said. “There is a trickle-down effect. The Brewers Association doesn’t think this will increase jobs or boost the industry. It doesn’t think it’s the right way to go.”

Still, some in the industry are skeptical of whether the tariffs will have any noticeable impact on beer prices. Ryan Valley of Boise River Canning is one of them. He runs a mobile can-filling service for several breweries in the area.

“The increase is not going to be that much,” Valley said. “I really don’t think the consumer is going to feel a 15-cent-per-case increase in the cost of beer considering that people are paying over $9 for a six-pack.”

Valley estimates the cost per can at 11 cents, including shipping. He said the price of cans would need to increase much more before he switched his packaging service to glass bottles.

“Bottles have a lot of issues,” Valley said. “They are non-recyclable. People in the Northwest are very outdoorsy, and they want their products in cans to take on the boat or the river. Bottles are also heavier and shipping them is more expensive.”

It's too soon to tell the full impact of the tariffs, but local brewers remain optimistic that consumers will continue buying beer. For now, it seems they will let the situation ferment before making any changes to packaging or production.
Pin It


Comments are closed.

© 2019 Boise Weekly

Website powered by Foundation