Shortage of glass jars and bottles impacting local distillers and liquor stores


PINEY FLATS, Tenn. (WJHL) – Our region, alongside the rest of the nation, has seen a number of supply chain shortages throughout the pandemic but the latest victims appear to be those in the beverage industry.

From toilet paper to hand sanitizer and now glass, those in the business of bottling are feeling the impact.

Since Northeast Tennessee is home to a number of wineries and distilleries that bottle and sell their own product, they especially are feeling this shortage and have since had to make adjustments.

The owner of Tri-Liquor in Piney Flats, Chris Joker, said he started seeing this issue mid-summer. Joker said he’s managed to keep their shelves stocked, but getting alcohol bottled in glass has proved extra challenging in recent weeks.

“In the past when I would do a 50-case deal of something, now I’m lucky to get three cases or they’ve cut it down to one case because that’s all they have,” said Joker.

From liquor stores to local distillers, Neil Roberson with East Tennessee Distilling said he’s had to switch from their signature glass bottle they’ve been using for the past decade to plastic. Roberson said it’s not only a change to their specific brand but there’s no benefit to the switch seeing as the plastic still comes with a high price tag.

“Under normal conditions, plastic would be cheaper. However, these are not normal conditions, and believe it or not, the plastic has gone up just as much as the glass,” said Roberson.

On Tuesday, the shortage really sunk in as Roberson and his team packaged their last remaining pallet of glass bottles. Joker said it’s currently a challenge for everyone in the beverage industry seeing as they all rely on the same distributors when it comes to liquor store shipments.

“Now when I order something, it’s back-ordered and it’s across the board. It’s crazy how much stuff I can’t get,” said Joker.

Roberson is also seeing the same issue in terms of getting shipments delivered. He said his vendor estimates another shipment of glass bottles won’t be available for another eight months to a year.

“Before, I could get things in a couple of weeks or a week or two, but now it’s 6 weeks out or 7 weeks out. If I don’t place orders now, then I won’t get it,” said Roberson.

Shane Abraham, the President of Universal Companies said they’re seeing this issue as well in the liquor stores they run, but also on the other end of their business when it comes to construction. “We’re feeling that though and not just in the retail side of things but construction and manufacturing as well. More so in the construction side of things with window packages and things we need and the components that go with those window packages,” he said.

While some are feeling a major impact and others not so much, the problem is still very present. Joker and Roberson said they see no end in sight and are continuing to adjust however they can to keep pushing products out to the public.

News Channel 11 also recently noticed an uptick in Dr. Enuf bottled in plastic and inquired if this was due to supply chain issues. Vice President of local sales, Patrick Sturgill, sent us this statement:

“We’re aware of the current ongoing supply-chain issues, but not really impacted by them. As far as Dr. Enuf in plastic, that’s something we’ve always had for certain vending locations along with school grounds. We’re working with our glass company so we’re in a good position in terms of supplies for the near future.”

-Patrick Sturgill

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