Five products that are hard to find on the shelves in Canada's pandemic summer

For many Canadians, surviving a pandemic has meant making some drastic changes in their lifestyles and subsequently storing certain items they didn't have to before

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People were panic-buying when the COVID-19 pandemic started because they did not know what to expect. 

Canadians were emptying the shelves at grocery stores starting in mid-March, buying up toilet paper and bottled water. Toilet paper has returned to shelves, but as people have adapted to life under COVID-19, new products have seen increased demand.

Here are five products that are hard to find in Canada this summer:

Beer cans 

Luke Chapman, the interim president for Beer Canada, said COVID-19 has caused a shortage of beer cans because of challenges and delays in sourcing aluminum. 

“In an average year, restaurants, bars and taprooms make up about 25 per cent of total beer sales in Canada and can represent a much higher share for some brewers,” said Chapman. “In March, those sales, which are primarily draught, were eliminated and as a result brewers were forced to quickly adapt to the new market realities of unexpectedly having to sell more of their beer in cans and to a lesser degree bottles.”


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Chapman said he has heard from certain brewers that they are limiting which brands they package because of beer can supply issues. 

He said the American tariffs placed on Canadian aluminum will ultimately hurt brewers because many source their supply of cans from the U.S. Canada exports raw aluminum to the U.S., which is used in the production of cans. 

“These are challenging and uncertain times for many Canadian businesses, including brewers,” he said. “We remain optimistic that both the supply and tariff issues will be resolved by government and industry working together.” 

Salbutamol inhalers 

Salbutamol inhalers relieve the symptoms of medical conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other respiratory conditions. Salbutamol works by relaxing the muscles of the airway, making it easier to breathe. 

Health Canada saidsome manufacturers have reported shortages of salbutamol inhalers because of an increase in demand as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Most patients have been receiving one inhaler at a time when they refill their prescriptions. 

Patients have been advised to continue to take their medication as they regularly would, as it will keep their respiratory conditions under control and reduce the risk of acute symptoms. 


Jose Bray, the owner of Joe Mamma Cycles, said more people are buying bicycles because cycling has been recognized as a safe activity to do outdoors during COVID-19. 


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“Riding a bike allows you to be physical without being in close contact with anyone,” said Bray.  “It’s a great alternative to the gym that so many were used to attending on a regular basis and it’s a safer alternative to the close quarters of public transit.” 

Bray said COVID-19 has also allowed local governments to develop more infrastructure for cyclists. 

He said a major change Joe Mamma Cycles has made to deal with the shortage of bicycles is focusing on repairs. 

“There are a lot of good bikes sitting in garages that can be tuned up and made road-worthy,” he said. 

Pressure-treated wood 

Wendy Rigby, the president of Hanford Lumber, said there is a shortage of pressure-treated wood in Canada because production had been running behind prior to COVID-19. 

“Many suppliers had lean inventories pre-COVID,” said Rigby. “And when the demand increased, prices took on double digit gains.” 

Rigby said more people are buying pressure-treated wood to work on home improvement projects such as decks and fences. 

She said the shortage has been exacerbated by the mills in Quebec shutting down for two weeks in the summer. There are also Canada-wide transportation challenges because of a lack of rail cars and trucks. 

“We’ve had to make some tough decisions about who we will sell to,” she said. “We’re trying to satisfy all of our clients, but the reality is that there’s limited supply.” 

Disinfectant wipes 

Manufacturers such as Clorox were unprepared for skyrocketing demand in a steady sector where sales typically only fluctuate during cold and flu season. Months into the COVID-19 pandemic, disinfectant wipesremain difficult to find

Clorox officials said in May they expected shelves to be stocked by this summer, but they anticipate now it will take a full year to raise supply levels to where they need to be.

National Post