The Brewers Association continues to be engaged where possible on issues in the brewery supply chain. In recent months, can issues have been a primary focus of staff. At the end of 2021, the association provided an update on Ball Corporation’s new order quantity and warehousing policies. That was followed by an update in early January on Ball’s postponement of those changes. Since that time, we have continued our dialogue with Ball and learned more about that postponement and are sharing what we have learned with members.
The first clarification is that we have learned that this extension applies only to Ball “terms customers” that received the mid-November communication from Ball. Ball communicated that “cash-in-advance customers” who were informed they could no longer place orders in October will still not be able to place orders. The differences between these tiers of customers was new information for Brewers Association staff or it would have been communicated in the early January update.
The Brewers Association also learned that Ball was still in the process of communicating these changes to customers individually, though they expected to be finished with this process by January 14, 2022. Any brewers who are terms customers with Ball, have not yet heard from Ball, and who wish to place additional orders before minimum order quantities increase, should get in touch directly with their sales representative. We will continue to advocate for as much information transparency in this process as possible.
In response to other questions we have received from members, we learned the following:
- The March date is the extension of the January 1 order date. Ball will attempt to honor release orders that are made by that date and production of those orders will continue into March. Production is still based on whether individual Ball facilities are able to supply an order based on existing inventory and orders, so the ability to place an order does not guarantee production.
- Warehousing policies will look as they did before, but the deadline is now extended to March 1, 2022. Inventory held at that point will be held for up to six months and then charges will accrue.
- Non-contracted terms customers can still buy directly from Ball after March 1 assuming they meet the minimum order quantity of five truckloads and can take immediate delivery. This is still subject to availability and supply constraints. The brokers Ball has named have contracted volume and so may provide a safety net for brewers whose orders cannot be produced.
Going forward, the Brewers Association will continue to work to provide as much transparency about supply chain changes as possible, as well as to work—where feasible—with suppliers and policymakers to ensure small brewers have access to inputs vital to their business. We plan to stay in continued dialogue with Ball in the hope that greater supply availability can be opened to more small brewers, regardless of contract or terms status. We will also work to educate policymakers on small brewer challenges and the variations between availability based on factors like size, contract status, or terms. If you have additional stories or questions, please do not hesitate to share those with Brewers Association staff. The primary points of contact on supply chain issues are Bart Watson and Chuck Skypeck.