Nearly four years since U.S. President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on aluminum (inside.beer, 24.4.2018), the U.S. beverage industry alone has paid more than USD 1.4 billion in tariffs. New research shows that the tariffs have driven up the price of aluminum because rolling mills and smelters are including the tariffs in their prices – regardless of whether the metal is subject to Section 232 tariffs. That means U.S. beer and beverage companies, along with many other users of aluminum, are being charged a higher price for the metal, driving up the cost of doing business in the U.S. and making consumer goods more expensive.
“With the cost of gas and groceries at record highs, American families and businesses are feeling the strain under the high costs of living. This new research shows the tariffs on aluminum continue to push up prices on American consumers and businesses,” said Jim McGreevy, president and CEO of the Beer Institute. “The fastest way to alleviate these high prices on American businesses and families is to repeal the tariffs.”
The research conducted on behalf of the Beer Institute by HARBOR Aluminum, an independent authority on the aluminum industry and its markets, found that between the implementation of Section 232 aluminum tariffs on March 23, 2018, and Feb 28, 2022, the U.S. beverage industry paid USD 1.416 billion in Section 232 tariffs on 7.1 million metric tons of aluminum. Of that amount, only $111 million (8 percent) went to the U.S. Treasury.
HARBOR Aluminum estimates U.S. rolling mills, U.S. smelters and Canadian smelters received USD 1.305 billion (92 percent) of the total by charging end-users – such as U.S. brewers – a tariff-burdened price regardless of whether the metal was meant to be tariffed based on its content or origin.
HARBOR Aluminum also estimated that in 2021 alone, the U.S. beverage industry paid USD 463 million in Section 232 tariffs. Of that USD 463 million, only USD 15 million (3 percent) went to the U.S. Treasury, while USD 448 million (97 percent) went to U.S. rolling mills, U.S. smelters and Canadian smelters.
There are more than 13,300 permitted breweries in the United States, supporting more than two million American jobs. Imported primary aluminum and cansheet are critical to the U.S. beer industry as more than 74 percent of all beer produced in the United States is packaged in aluminum cans and bottles. In 2020, brewers bought more than 41 billion aluminum cans and bottles, making aluminum the single largest input cost in American beer manufacturing.