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Covid 2.0

Jim Boxberger - Correspondent
Posted 1/8/21

It has been almost a year since I wrote my first column relating to coronavirus. At that time I wrote “As of Monday January 27, 2020 when I wrote this column there were over 81 deaths in China with …

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Covid 2.0

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It has been almost a year since I wrote my first column relating to coronavirus. At that time I wrote “As of Monday January 27, 2020 when I wrote this column there were over 81 deaths in China with roughly 3,000 cases reported. In this country there have been 5 cases of coronavirus that the CDC is monitoring, none of which is expected to be fatal.” Well those expectations were wrong.

Since that time we have persevered through deaths, illness, shut downs, and shortages. Now we are getting ready to deal with Covid 2.0, which has already shut down Ireland and the United Kingdom. Much of continental Europe will probably soon follow with shut downs and inevitably we will be affected as well as a few cases have already shown up in New York.

But unlike when Covid first affected us, healthcare professionals, are well aware of what they are dealing with and vaccines are being produced at a record pace. So on the healthcare front the news is not all gloom and doom. However, on the supply chain front it is a different story.

Back in November, I reported on shortages of aluminum cans, due to the high demand for “aluminum sheet”, which is the way companies buy aluminum from manufactures like Alcoa. Alcoa is one of the largest aluminum producers and since the time I wrote the November column, Alcoa's stock price has doubled, as they are sold out of all aluminum that they can produce through 2025 at this point.

As a result of the aluminum shortage, many can foods are simply not available because there are no cans to put it in. We have already been affected by this with many of canned dog and cat foods only available about every other month.

Our Ball canning jar lids that were out of stock all summer are only now just coming in, in limited quantities. On the consumer product side of aluminum consumption, Ball has the dominant market share in the U.S. market of 42%. On the other side, the U.S. auto industry accounts for a large portion of aluminum consumption as well.

The auto industry, and particularly Tesla, have been paying higher prices for aluminum sheet so that they do not have to reduce production. With Tesla meeting production goals for 2020, their stock price has soared to new records making Elon Musk one of the richest men in the world.

But all this aluminum sheet usage has put even more pressure on companies like Ball to pay more for Aluminum sheet or go without. This problem is only going to get worse as this year goes on, with or without coronavirus concerns.

As canned food on the shelves of the grocery store most certainly will dwindle this year, backyard gardening is expected to hit new heights not seen since the days of the Victory Gardens planted during World War Two. We have already been stocking up with gardening supplies as the demand began just after New Year.

The 2021 seeds will be in soon and the starter trays and soils are already in. Long handled gardening tools are currently out of stock as our distributors are waiting to get deliveries from the manufacturers.

We were lucky to have snow shovels in stock for the last snow storm as our distributors are out of most styles for the winter already. Shortages are cropping up everywhere and there seems to be no end in site now that Covid 2.0 has come into the picture.

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