New aluminum tariffs could hit beer drinkers - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

New aluminum tariffs could hit beer drinkers

President Trump's new tariffs on aluminum could increase beer prices for American consumers. (Source: CNN) President Trump's new tariffs on aluminum could increase beer prices for American consumers. (Source: CNN)

GOLDEN, CO (CNN) – The cost of beer could increase under President Donald Trump's new tariffs on aluminum.

One of America's biggest beer makers is warning its prices could be on the rise, just as summer is set to kick off.

"The tariff is going to add cost in America," said Pete Coors, chairman of the Molson Coors Brewing Company.

The cost of a can of beer is directly tied to the price of aluminum, and one of the biggest consumers of aluminum in the world is the MillerCoors corporation, the producer of some of the most iconic beer brands in America.

Pete Coors' uncle pioneered the use of the aluminum can more than 60 years ago.

"Which was new technology. Obviously, the first time it had ever been done in the industry," Coors said.

Today, more than 65 percent of their product is sold in cans, many of them produced in the largest can plant in the world, which generates 13 million cans a day.

While the overall cost of aluminum has only bumped up a small amount, an American industry surcharge called the "Midwest Premium" – an added cost to the price to account for shipping and storing aluminum to Midwest cities – spiked close to 140 percent.

That spike is directly tied to Trump's tariff announcement – a frustration for Pete Coors, a Republican who held a fundraiser for Trump.

"I love what the president's done in most cases, but the tariff is basically a tax on people who use aluminum," Coors said.

But Philip Luck, an economist at the University of Colorado Denver, believes the tariffs themselves will inevitably lead to higher beer prices.

"The main problem here, again, is the uncertainty generated by these tariffs," Luck said.

Half of Coors customers make $50,000 or less a year, according to the company.

When it comes to beer, Luck said the tariffs could hurt working class Americans the most.

"You could definitely make the argument that imposing these types of tariffs is going to hurt exactly the types of people you claim to want to be helping," Luck said.

Jim Phillips is a union carpenter. He prefers beer in a can, in part because it's cheap.

"Well, I'm not happy. I'm not going to be happy about it," Phillips said.

Phillips believes if beer drinkers recognize the price hike and connect it to Trump, it could lead some to reevaluate their vote.

"By midterm election, we'll see how it goes, what he does. Does he stick with this plan of the tariff?" Phillips said.

But Chris Johnson, the manager of the Candlelight Tavern in Denver, CO, believes those in search of refreshment may not even notice the price going up.

"Obviously, the economy is good, so people don't complain about it as much," Johnson said.

Pete Coors said he's spoken to both Vice President Mike Pence and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross about his concerns regarding the Midwest Premium.

At this point, there are no plans for the administration to intervene. If the tariffs stay in play, economists say higher prices for beer are inevitable.

What's unclear is how supporters of the president will respond to the price hikes when they go to the polls.

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