COVID-19 continues to suck and to find new ways to suck almost every day. And while there are good stories that have come out of this time, stories of hope and inspiration, there’s also been plenty of heartbreak and negativity. Just when you think you’ve hit the worst of it, something more sinister will hit the news. For instance, there is a growing concern about the stability of our nation’s beer and soda supply.
It’s a little complex, but it comes down to this: we can’t catch a break. In more technical terms, the virus had caused a historic plummeting of gas demand (woo-hoo low gas prices). With demand so low, Ethanol (which gets mixed with gasoline) production is way down. And it’s ethanol producers that sell CO2, which is a byproduct of ethanol production. And CO2 is what carbonates beer and soda. This is a very Sparknotes reading of the situation (you can learn more here).
Gas demand is down nearly 30 percent and no one knows why (experts believe it may have some sort of vague connection to the fact that no one can go anywhere because the virus has restricted us all to our homes indefinitely). Ethanol production is also down nearly 50 percent, according to the Compressed Gas Association (which sounds like a joke but is actually a real thing). They expect the situation to hit true crisis levels in May.
Soft drink and beer brewers are trying to find alternative ways to track down this necessary ingredient. We cannot doubt the American brewery machine at a time like this, as remaining hopeful is the only path forward.
The big beer and soda companies should be in alright shape, but experts in the industry are concerned, calling it a “very serious problem.” And, like everywhere else in life, it’s going to be the little guy who is hit the hardest. This means your favorite craft brewer, whose delicious products have been key to getting through this madness, could be in jeopardy.
And if that comes to pass, we will have hit another low in this struggle.
Huh. Ethanol plants are a big supplier of CO2 for the food industry — used to make beer/soda fizz or as a refrigerant for meat. But now that vehicle fuel demand has cratered, more ethanol plants are idling, which is dwindling those supplies of CO2: https://t.co/tA7CNg8Xmh
— brad plumer (@bradplumer) April 21, 2020
Here at The Dad, we hope you, your families, and communities stay safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. For the latest information, please utilize online resources from local public health departments, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization to remain as informed as possible.