Aluminum, steel tariffs could cost New Mexico breweries, customers

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) - There's new concern among some New Mexico brewers over the impact that proposed tariffs on imported metals could have on the state's craft brew business.

President Donald Trump's administration has proposed a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum. The President claims the move would help the American steel industry.

However, some craft brewers believe the proposed tariffs could negatively affect the New Mexico beer scene and possibly lead to higher prices.

The New Mexico Brewers Guild says craft beer has become big business in the state over the last two decades.

"Twenty years ago, there were a half dozen breweries in New Mexico and now we have over 70," said Gozigian.

Today, the Brewers Guild estimates craft beer has generated more than 3,000 jobs in the state.

"Our economic impact was $330 million, annually," said John Gozigian, citing a recent study of the New Mexico craft beer scene.

Part of that growth has emerged from local breweries using aluminum cans to package and sell their product. Gozigian estimates at least 12 breweries sell their product in cans.

Santa Fe Brewing is one of the larger New Mexico craft brewers that use cans.

"We added a canning line in 2010," said Brian Lock, president and owner of Santa Fe Brewing. "As we saw the popularity of cans from the consumer, we decided to transition all of our bottled products to cans."

In a warehouse next to their brewing operations, Lock estimated Tuesday that the brewery had about 1.5 million cans waiting to be filled.

The cost of the can is of concern to Lock.

"Aluminum is a key factor in the cost of all the beer we make," said Lock.

If the tariffs take effect, Lock thinks he'd likely have to pass any additional costs on to a consumer, which he estimates could be as much as a dollar per six-pack or more.

"Ten percent to us is a big number and that could certainly affect the consumer because that's the kind of cost that we can't absorb internally and still make money," said Lock.

He's holding out hope the tariffs don't happen.

"Certainly would prevent a business like mine that's growing very quickly," said Lock.

While President Trump announced the potential tariffs last week, the President hasn't said yet when the proposal could take effect.


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