‘Out of stock’: Hawaii breweries battle shortages of everything from barley to carbon dioxide

From baby formula to beer, supply chain issues are delaying products and inflating prices -- and the impacts are even worse in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Published: Jun. 10, 2022 at 5:45 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 10, 2022 at 6:02 PM HST
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KIHEI (HawaiiNewsNow) - From baby formula to beer, supply chain challenges are delaying products and inflating prices.

Like so many businesses, the brewing industry is also facing shortages for everything from barley to carbon dioxide.

“If we could produce more, we wouldn’t be out of stock,” said Maui Brewing Company CEO Garrett Marrero, as he walks around his brewery in Kihei. It is the largest craft brewery in the state.

“This facility in total is about 85,000 square feet,” he said.

Marrero has the space to meet the high demand for his product, but that is just one part of the equation.

“We buy barley from as far as Europe, in Midwest, Canada. Millions of pounds of various types of malted barley every year. Getting it is one thing,” Marrero said.

“You may not have a shipping container to ship it in, and then once it gets to the port in a container, is there space on that boat? And then when it gets to the dock, is there someone to unload that container?”

There are giant stacks of empty cans in his brewery waiting to be filled.

“We’re up about 40% year-to-date. We could be up quite a bit more because the demand is certainly there, we have not just been able to build those inventories,” said Marrero.

It’s not just beer.

Disruptions to the supply chain has even forced Marrero to pull some items from his food menu.

“There were definitely times over this past, I’d say nine to 12 months, where it’s like, ‘I’m sorry, we’re just out of chicken wings, we don’t have them.’ Or we had to cut steak from the menu because we couldn’t get steak, even though we buy locally, it’d be held up on the dock somewhere,” he said.

Whether it’s restaurants or stores, consumers are seeing the impacts.

“Definitely everything that we buy at the grocery stores is more expensive. Everything from cereal, bread, milk, and especially gas,” said Kula resident Jesse Blais.

“The cost of brisket is up fourfold. Chicken wings that are up eightfold. So, prices of course have to go up,” Marrero said. “This is a direct equation. If your costs go up, then the prices have to go up.”

Supply chain issues have also forced Marrero to raise some prices on the menu.

But not on beer, yet.

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