Fact check: Dr Pepper shortage? No. But aluminum can shortage may be behind lack of supply
The claim: There is going to be shortage of Dr Pepper due to the coronavirus, and the bottling company has shut down
The coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on supply chains around the nation and manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the latest shifts in demand.
Earlier in the year came toilet paper and hand sanitizer shortages, and more recently, a national coin shortage. Users on social media are claiming Dr Pepper is next.
“So I was just told there was going to be a shortage of Dr Pepper if they can get any at all. The bottling company who makes it is closed down due to the Corona Virus," reads a July 22 Facebook post. The post then goes on to urge users to “buy all you can find cause they will be gone soon.”
Beverage companies have been hit with a shortage of aluminum cans as soft drink and beer consumption has shifted from restaurants to homes amid the coronavirus pandemic. Can makers weren’t prepared for drink consumption to shift from fountain service in restaurants to home consumption.
USA TODAY could not reach for comment the user who posted about Dr Pepper.
The claim also appears as early as July 2015, when one Facebook user wrote on Dr Pepper’s Facebook page that he was experiencing a shortage of the soda in his hometown. Users commented on the post last month, noting that their cities were having the same issue.
Rumors of a Dr Pepper shortage also made their way to Twitter. One user wrote: “Ugh....second time I've gone to the store and no Diet Dr. Pepper. Please tell me there isn't a Diet Dr. Pepper shortage.”
Fact check: Yes, there's a national coin shortage. Here's why
Is there really a Dr Pepper shortage?
Many users on Reddit shared their frustration about not being able to find Dr Pepper in early June. Some speculated that people are hoarding the beverage. One Reddit user claimed he spoke to the company and was told that Dr Pepper halted production because of an aluminum shortage.
CBS Pittsburgh reported last month on a shortage of soft drinks in stores. Signs in stores explain there is a temporary shortage in Pepsi Max, while "other products like Dr Pepper Cherry and Diet A&W Rootbeer are obvious by their absence."
In a Google Groups page, users from Ohio, Arizona, California wrote their local grocers are also facing a shortage in Dr Pepper.
Dr Pepper did not respond to numerous requests for comment from USA TODAY. But the beverage maker did provide a statement to another fact-checker.
Dr Pepper consumer relations officer Jean Carlos told Lead Stories last month: "We find out about these glitches when people call us because here, everything is in production and smooth. It is not a problem of supply. I just got off the phone with a customer in New York who could not find Dr Pepper in aluminum cans. This has been going on since Covid started."
Carlos added that the recent concerns raised by consumers could be due to aluminum can production slowing down distribution of the soft drink.
There is a shortage of aluminum cans
Robert Budway, president of the Can Manufacturers Institute, the industry's trade association, told USA TODAY that "the can industry is working 24/7 on meeting the unprecedented demand."
The material used for aluminum can production is not in short supply, rather the industry is struggling to meet the demand to produce enough cans.
The Aluminum Association, an industry group representing the metal's manufacturers, said in a statement to USA TODAY that the beverage can manufacturing industry has seen "unprecedented demand" for cans "prior to and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic."
The statement added that consumers appear to favor the portability and storability of canned beverages as people remain at home.
Coca-Cola, which is also being affected by the can production issue, took to Twitter after a user mentioned not being able to find Pibb products.
"Sorry, we don't sell our products directly, but we are working to have more stocked for you on the shelves ASAP. In the meantime, you can try to look on Amazon Pantry to see if its available," Coca-Cola wrote on June 30.
More: U.S. Mint asks Americans to 'start spending their coins' to help with coin shortage spurred by COVID-19
Our rating: Partly false
Actual production of Dr Pepper is reportedly "smooth." It is false to say there's a shortage of the soft drink or that the company has shut down, as posts claim. But the beverage maker has suggested recent production issues surrounding aluminum cans could be why consumers are seeing fewer products on shelves. And it is true there is a national aluminum can shortage, which has affected availability of some beverages. We rate this claim PARTLY FALSE, based on our research.
Our fact-check sources:
- Reddit, r/DrPepper, Dr Pepper shortages thread
- July 29 tweet
- CBS Pittsburgh, "Coronavirus Pandemic Causing Shortages In Everything From Cash To Manufacturing Supplies"
- Google Groups, alt.fan.dr-pepper, shortages discussion
- Lead Stories, "Fact Check: There Is NOT An Upcoming Shortage Of Dr. Pepper Because Of The Coronavirus"
- USA TODAY, "Another shortage! Beer, soda makers struggle with aluminum can supply, plan to limit niche drinks"
- Coca-Cola, June 30 tweet
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Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.