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Guelph alcohol businesses face bottle shortage

Supply chain disruptions have also impacted the ability to obtain other materials, like boxes, labels, seals and caps

For local businesses that sell alcohol, glass bottles are becoming harder to come by, and the scarcity is cutting into their profits.

“You can find glass bottles right now, but they’re twice the price and that’s the real issue,” said Tariq Ahmed, founder of Revel Cider on Dawson Road. 

Currently, Revel Cider is getting its glass bottles from Germany, which they were able to negotiate for a year in advance. However, other aspects of their business, like shipping costs and commercial space rent, have also gone up in price.

“It’s not only glass, it’s aluminum cans, it’s cardboard, it’s affected the price of everything,” said Ahmed. 

JD Dixon, co-owner of Dixon’s Distilled Spirits on Elmira Road North, said glass bottles are only one part of the problem with current supply chain disruptions. Labels, caps, seals and boxes are also seeing delivery delays, which has been impacting their production. 

“We didn't just start feeling it, this definitely started that way last year, but we're now feeling those backlogs, and you have to be willing to adjust," said Dixon.

Similar to Ahmed, Dixon said he realized early on in the pandemic there could be future issues to the supply chain, and began ordering larger quantities of glass bottles in advance. However, because the cost of manufacturing and shipping the bottles has gone up, Dixon's did have to raise their prices as well.

"It's a domino effect ... it's also all the components along the way, because their shipping costs have doubled and tripled," said Dixon, "so they're passing all those things along, and by the time it gets to me, well that's why it's a 53 to 56 per cent in the raw material before the liquid even goes in."

On Friday, Dixon’s had 26 skids of product, roughly 15,600 bottles, ready to go for Victoria Day weekend. The business also has another truck coming at the end of June.

“That's where other distilleries or breweries are going to find themselves in trouble. If they're not thinking about July, August or September right now, they're going to be in trouble," said Dixon.

While international manufacturers for these products have closed down, new North American manufacturers are starting to reopen. 

"I think that's a good thing, people see opportunity," said Dixon. "All of a sudden, I'm getting calls now like, 'Hey, we're making bottles in Windsor,' and 'We're making bottles in Montreal,' so we're like, okay that's great!' It comes with a little bit of an extra cost, but the security or safety is that you know you can get your bottles because your bottles are only a few hours away."

The effects of supply chain disruptions may vary between large and small businesses in Guelph. In a statement, Sleeman Breweries said the company uses refillable bottles for the vast majority of bottling production and is not currently impacted by bottle supply shortages.

At Revel Cider, Ahmed said the rising costs are pushing them to look into new revenue sources, including exporting to other countries, raising prices and attracting more customers to their current products. 

“We are getting a little bit creative, we’re putting in a full tasting room at the moment and we’re hoping to open it as fast as we can,” said Ahmed, who only has a bottle shop.

“Our issues really started this year in regards to supply chain issue challenges. It’s this really complex challenge, but so far we’re making it work.”