Wednesday 6 April 2022

Multifaceted reason for cat food shortage in America

NEWS AND COMMENT: This is surprising. News media is reporting shortages of cat food. I don't see reports of shortages of dog food but that might just be me not searching properly. But it does seem strange that the headlines I've seen concerns cat food.

Some time ago I wrote about the shortage of wheat because of the Ukraine war impacting pet food and how it might push up prices. This is not mentioned in this current news media story but it may be a factor. What they are mentioning is that there is a shortage of aluminium to make the cans.

Canned cat food shortage in the USA
Canned cat food shortage in the USA. Pic in public domain.

Therefore, this shortage only applies to canned wet food. And as dry cat food is very prevalent in America and elsewhere, I don't see a huge problem. In any case, aluminium is in short supply as demand has increased. There has been a spike in demand aluminium around the world and in the United States.

Another factor is labour shortages. The pandemic has also created a post-pandemic rush it appears on goods. In other words, production isn't meeting current demand. There has also been a crackdown in pollution which has affected aluminium manufacturing in China. There has been a decrease in production of aluminium by 10-20% worldwide apparently.

I would like to expand a bit on the reason why there is a shortage of aluminium. One site tells me that the demand for aluminium cans has increased dramatically in recent years. One reason is the increase in popularity of beverages such as hard seltzer. More breweries use aluminium cans over glass alternatives because it's easier to produce and cheaper, I suspect. Supply of aluminium cans has not been able to keep up with the demand.

Bloomberg tells us that there have been supply-chain issues for months across the planet. The cost of transporting aluminium and copper has risen. At the moment the cost of transportation of aluminium accounts for 20% of the total market price of this metal.

It is also said that people are drinking at home and therefore buy cans and take them home. In the old days people would go to a public house or bar in the UK and drink out of a glass. That method of drinking uses fewer aluminium cans.

Also, the raw materials for producing aluminium are rising due in part to the higher energy prices such as gas and oil. Another website also says that China's decarbonisation policies have hit supplies of aluminium hard. China is the world's biggest aluminium producer and consumer. It is currently a metal importer.

In addition, there has been a pet adoption increase during the pandemic in order to keep people company. Some of these adoptions have been made carefully while others haven't. This has resulted in early relinquishment to shelters or other adopters.

Another factor in the shortage of cat food is that there are not enough meat products.

In Michigan, it is reported that animal shelters are having to come up with new ways to make sure that the animals in their care are fed. Food is becoming harder to find in some stores in mid-Michigan.

One woman, Jennifer Lothamer, who looks after 15 cats in Hillsdale Township said that, "It was just cat food was starting to vanish. Cats are kind of like my kids. All these cats are going to be here waiting for the food. I want to make sure they are going to have it. We are just trying to be the best that we can do. If you can't find it at Meijer, then you go to Walmart. If you can’t find it at Walmart, then you go to TSC and just kind of travel around."

It paints a picture of struggling to find cat food where she lives. This must feel very unusual because America is a land of plenty!

In Michigan, part of the problem is to do with demand because cat adoptions are up as elsewhere. And adoptions do not seem to be dropping down.

My conclusion on reading the story is that the major factor, despite being multifaceted, is a shortage in aluminium to make the cans.

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