Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The silly uproar about beer prices

Prices for take-home beer rose 3 percent in May.

Are you shocked?

If so, you probably don't buy beer often enough to notice any price increase.

May was, after all, more than a month ago.

The Labor Department's new report on prices was picked up by the media, and the beer increase stood out the most, so now media junkies will be hearing about this for the next 24-36 hours.

To be sure, the price increase was greater than the economy's overall inflation rate, and beer poured away from home, in the safety of one's neighborhood bar, increased 3.8 percent, according to USA Today.

Early this morning, CNN explained it this way: The high gas prices have increased the demand for ethanol, so farmers have committed more land to corn than barley. As barley has become a little more scarce, prices have increased -- an increase of 17 percent on average since the beginning of the year, according to USA Today.

So it is a big deal to the beer industry. But not the shocker the media wants it to be this morning.

Here's the full USA Today article: http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070703/BUSINESS/707030336/1003/BUSINESS

In other news, according to the Associated Press:

"With metal prices rising, beer makers say they expect to lose hundreds of thousands of kegs and millions of dollars this year as those stainless steel holders of brew are stolen and sold for scrap.

"The beer industry is coupling with the scrap metal recycling industry to let metal buyers know they can't accept kegs unless they're sold by the breweries that own them. They're also pushing for legislation that would require scrap metal recyclers to ask for identification and proof of ownership from would-be sellers."

Read the full story at http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/us/AP-Disappearing-Kegs.html?_r=1&oref=slogin (This link should be good for seven days.)

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