There’s an ironic new Corona crisis sweeping bottle shops around the country: Australia is running out of Mexican beer.
Imported by CUB, Corona is suffering such major supply issues that stores can only order a maximum of 20 cartons per week.
An internal memo sent between CUB beer sales representatives and seen by The Australian revealed the Corona shortage.
“I have just been advised this morning that unfortunately CUB are having stock challenges on Corona,” the memo said. “Up to last week they had felt that our stocks were fairly safe; however, they are facing some massive shipping challenges along with ongoing challenges at the Mexican brewery. CUB have now placed ALL customers nationally a maximum order limit on Corona.”
A spokesperson told Bloomberg: “In the lead-up to Christmas we are distributing it fairly to retailers across Australia to help limit shortages.”
There’s a sense of deja vu for bottle shop owners, who faced a similar Corona shortage last Christmas due to COVID-related issues.
Pallet shortage hits Lion
Supply chain issues have been brewing for months. Woolworths, Coles, pallet makers and smaller chains formed a task force in October to address a pallet shortage in Australia.
Cellarbrations at Gisborne owner Tony Bongiovanni told Drinks Digest at the time: “On average, 23% of orders placed are out of stocks for numerous reasons that we are told by our suppliers, including shortages of aluminium cans, pallets, containers and COVID cases in warehouses.
“We are all coming out of lockdowns and this should be our chance to catch up with loved ones and friends. It’s supposed to be a time of celebration. However, out of stocks are impacting and affecting retailers ability to trade efficiently during this important trading period. On average we are also seeing delays to deliveries of three to four days past expected delivery dates.”
Lion has since been forced to shut down production of some lines due to the pallet shortage. The brewer is prioritising production of its best-selling beer at the cost of other products that are either already out of stock or will be once production comes to a halt.
“Once certain packs of Tooheys long necks and cans, Hahn and Iron Jack cans are sold out, they may not be available until the new year,” The Australian reports.
Lion national sales director Warwick Parks has issued warnings to pub owners for the upcoming shortages.
“Regrettably, we now have a large number of our smaller pack SKUs out of stock, and as we indicated previously, we don’t expect our pallet supplies to improve sufficiently to start making these products again until the new year,” he said.
BWS stores across Australia have put up signs explaining the retailer is “currently experiencing delivery delays on some products”.
“There will be a two-carton purchasing limit in store and online for some products,” the sign says.
The outlook for Christmas
An Endeavour Group spokesperson said the store is in the process of removing the temporary limits and assuring customers there will still be plenty of beer for Christmas.
“We have over 1000 different beers in our stores, and our cool rooms are filled with stock ahead of Christmas, so customers can be rest assured they will be able to enjoy their favourite brews this summer,” the spokesperson said.
CEO of Alcohol Beverages Australia Andrew Wilsmore was equally optimistic.
“The good news for Australians is that there will still be plenty of drinks to choose from when they visit their local bottleshop, pub, club or restaurant this festive season,” he said.
“Some products, however, may not be available due to global supply chain disruptions and local pallet availably which is hampering the delivery of beer, wine and spirits to retail and hospitality businesses.
“All parts of the industry’s supply chain are working closely together to resolve any delays and minimise the impact on drinkers being able to enjoy their favourite brand this year.’