The U.S. aluminum can industry is being hit hard as consumers switch from soft drinks to healthier options, such as water and iced teas, which are traditionally bottled in plastic or glass.
Anti-obesity campaigns, like ones promoted by Walt Disney and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, have forced producers of sheet aluminum for cans to look abroad for more profitable markets, reports Reuters.
Alcoa, the top U.S. aluminum producer, which produces can sheet for manufacturers of drinks such as Coca Cola, expects can demand to fall for the third straight year.
“This is mainly driven by a more health-conscious public, [which] is consuming more drinks perceived as healthier,” said Michael Demmer of Novelis, the world’s largest flat-rolled aluminum maker. “This trend will likely continue, but the soda producers will try to contrast that by producing healthier drinks.”
The U.S. remains a massive soda can market compared to the rest of the world, with around 5 percent of global annual aluminum consumption each year.
The average American drinks about 160 liters of soda a year, the equivalent of a bath tub-full, far exceeding emerging economies China and India, where the average annual consumption is less than 5 liters.
Nevertheless, the soda industry is on the defensive, taking steps to block Bloomberg’s ban on large sugary drinks in New York City. The United States’ obesity epidemic is not only curbing consumption, but is also multiplying the number of policy changes being advocated for, says Reuters.
Disney has stated it intends on limiting the number of junk food ads on its shows geared toward children, while many school districts across the U.S. have banned sugary drinks from vending machines and cafeterias in schools.