As the world continues to remain on lockdown due to COVID-19, unexpected consequences continue to arise. In Mexico, for instance, a beer shortage has given rise to a thriving black market.
About a month ago, Mexico decreed that beer breweries are “nonessential” for the duration of the pandemic, reported The Guardian. Bigger brands like Modelo, Corona, and Pacifico are still being brewed, but for export only.
The result is growing unease as the country lurches toward the day when the supply runs out. A government warning that the beer supply at supermarket chains wouldn’t last more than 10 days resulted in panicked customers waiting in long lines to hoard as much beer as they could before it all ran out. A black market has arisen, but prices are twice as high than in pre-pandemic times.
While most people are taking the shortage with a sense of humor (according to The Guardian, the hashtag #LaUltimaChela, “the last beer,” was trending on Twitter) the beer shortage could spell disaster for small, family-owned retailers that depend on beer sales during the summer to stay in business. According to Cuauhtémoc Rivera, director of the National Alliance of Small Merchants, beer makes up about 40 percent of sales for small shops once the weather gets warm.
There is still liquor available in most stores, but what the people really want is beer. The Hustle reported that the average Mexican adult drinks 18 gallons of beer a year. Some desperate beer drinkers have gone on beer runs to nearby Texas, and Facebook groups have even emerged mapping out stores where beer might still be available. But even in shops where there is still beer on the shelves, price gouging has become common practice.
Perhaps I’m just speaking for myself, but until beer brewing gets back to normal, anyone in Mexico should feel free to raid our corner stores and wine shops. There’s plenty of beer to go around and in this time of crisis, Americans should be more than willing to share.