22 things you should know about the shortage of canning lids in 2021
It no secret that there was a canning lid shortage in 2020. With pandemic panic buying and inflation coming at us full steam, many people are learning to can their own food and be more self-reliant. The first step most people take is purchasing canning lids from their local grocery store or online retailer, but those sources have been gone for ages now. This article will discuss why there has been a shortage and why existing stock might be more expensive than what you're used to.
In 2020, a pandemic was declared worldwide. This caused panic buying on anything that could protect from the pandemic or provide sustenance in its aftermath. And toilet paper.
Lockdowns gave many people lots of time for new hobbies (remember the sourdough bread craze?) including gardening. We called the surge of canning interest "Sourdough 2.0" and though those two things may have been the largest contributors to the shortage in 2020, this year things are a lot more complex.
Is there still shortages of canning lids?
Yes, there is still a canning supply shortage in 2021. The number of people who are learning to preserve their own food has gone up (no surprise there, way to go first time gardeners!), but the supply of new canning jars and canning lids hasn't increased nearly enough; both lead times and manufacturers' prices keep going up.
Most of the shortage related to covid 19 shows up in the shortages of canning lids, specifically the flat lid ("flats"), normally widely available, but now they are the first thing to go out of stock. It is this part of the two-piece lids that creates the seal during canning, and though jars and rings can and shouldn't be reused for hot water bath or pressure canning.
Where can I find Canning Supplies when there is a shortage?
Well, we might still have some available. We're doing our best! Check to see if we still have stock here. (If you haven't already, grab your 10% off welcome coupon here.) But let's assume we're sold out and you still need help finding mason jars or two piece lids. Locations are going to vary depending on where you live and what other resources you have access to.
Your local grocers and big box stores likely got a small restock of your favorite brand of canning jars and lids in the spring, but those shelves may have been empty of all canning supplies by the time you got there. Most stores ordered 10 times more than normal last year, but due to limited production, most brands, including Ball, are rationing canning supplies even to their most loyal customers.
Where can I find home canning lids/flats?
You can try smaller retailers that aren't known for their canning supplies and might not be frequented by canners. These can include your local hardware store, farm & feed supply stores, garage sales, and thrift stores. If you're not sure the canning lids are new, you should probably pass on them unless you're just using the lids for storage.
Try social media
If you've tried every store and market you can think of in your search for canning lids, try reaching out online. You might have friends or family that have canning lids sitting around who thought they would be avid canners but found out they didn't love the process or weren't good at canning, or maybe they just stocked up on lids and jars the way they stocked up on toilet paper. You can offer to trade or barter for other supplies they might need, or maybe they will pass them off for free (we will cross our fingers for you.)
Why is demand so high?
We can't just blame Pinterest for this one. Though the mighty mason jar hasn't fallen from its throne online on sites like Pinterest and Instagram, the major jar and canning supply demand is due to the covid 19 pandemic of last year.
Aside from "sourdough 2.0" and the demand for more mason jars and mason jar lids from home canners, canning supplies have become heavily used commercially during this time as well. There have been unprecedented production disruptions in seemingly unrelated industries that we will explore later, leading commercial manufacturers to make a move to standard canning jars and lids for their products.
Is Ball still making canning lids?
As far as we are aware, without any direct contact with Ball, or their parent company, we believe Ball is producing lids as fast as possible.
Though some people believe that one brand will outperform the other, all Ball, Kerr, Golden Harvest, and Bernardin jars are all owned and produced by Newell Brands in the U.S. If you've experienced trouble this season with your canning lids not sealing, you may want to have a look at where you bought your lids. Many knock-offs and look-alike lids made overseas have become very popular because they are usually available much cheaper than their American-made counterparts. We will talk about this more later.
Who is Bernardin?
Bernardin is a brand owned by U.S. manufacturer Newell Brands. Newell Brands is also the owner of Ball, Kerr, and Golden Harvest. You might find you prefer Ball lids, but in reality, all of these brands are the same quality.
Bernardin, even though it's made in the US, is usually only sold in Canada. We've heard rumors that this is due to a turf war in the 1960s between Ball and Bernardin before the two companies were related.
A mason jar or lid that reads "Bernardin" is every bit as good as your favorite Ball lids. You can read hundreds of reviews here.
Why is there still a shortage of canning lids in 2021?
The current lid shortage is a complex puzzle. Product availability is affected by a myriad of different issues, but to simplify why there's still a shortage of canning lids in particular, we can chalk it up to a few basic things.
Production slowdowns are a major factor. Most manufacturers tried to keep up with the surge in demand but just could not. Restrictions on how many people could be in one area and how close they could be to each other while working took their toll on production speeds.
In addition to production slowdowns, certain materials, like metals, were in high demand globally, plus the national transportation grid had some major hiccups.
Most people don't realize that the product they buy from the store shelves can take many months, if not years, in the production pipeline going from raw material to finished product available for sale.
Why are canning lid prices so high?
We could point back to our high school lessons on supply and demand. We all know how that works, but when it comes to the price of the mighty mason jar, it seems ridiculous to pay more than triple the price of 2019 for canning supplies, but the supply shortage has proved to be no laughing matter.
What is causing the soaring prices?
It's easy to forget when shopping for a basic product like canning supplies that the price you see is made of multiple national, global, environmental, political, and even weather-related issues that can cause delays and price increases across entire otherwise unrelated industries. You might think that companies selling canning supplies to you are just out to make a quick buck, but you'll see that most companies had their own soaring costs to deal with, players in every industry struggled to be even marginally profitable during these trying times.
Everyone is shorthanded
Many businesses are short staffed. Not only due to covid 19 restrictions, though that has played a huge part, but also political issues like vaccination requirements and the availability of unemployment insurance for large groups of people led to massive staffing shortages.
Weather events like the massive freeze in Texas contributed to chemical shortages affecting almost every industry.
Shutdowns of customs offices because of covid 19 caused delays in imports and exports affecting even those without direct contact to pandemic.
Once in a blue moon events, like the Ever Given container ship getting stuck in the Suez Canal, can cause ripple effects for months. Even without that delay, transportation prices for both finished and raw goods coming from Asia have more than quadrupled in 2021 from last year.
Lumber = gold?
Lumber prices soared in early 2021, leading to a shortage of pallets for goods to be packed on. Without pallets (or drivers to move the pallets) shipping prices soar.
Glass shortages, really?
Though this one isn't due to a shortage of glass, it's still a factor. Due to diminished relationships with international recyclers, aluminum supply is at an all-time low. Many manufacturers switched from aluminum cans to preserving their goods in glass mason jars. This may have had a far bigger impact than any impact by home canners.
How do I reuse a canning lid?
You can reuse canning lids for dry storage, freezer storage, and any number of crafts, (11 Creative Ways to Reuse Flat Mason Jar Lids) but we cannot recommend reusing canning lids or the flat part of two piece lids on mason jars for canning purposes. Yes, people do it, but we aren't going to recommend this as a good alternative.
Is there a substitute for canning lids?
There is one reusable substitute for the type of mason jar canning lid that we are talking about, Tattler lids. They are more expensive but can last you for years.
Other food preservation substitutes include dehydrating, freezing, and fermenting foods. Make sure that you know exactly what to do in each scenario. We've covered the basics for freezing food in jars here.
Be careful where you shop!
We understand limited finances and budget restrictions, but the only thing worse than expensive canning lids is spending during the lid shortage on lids that don't work and don't seal. Don't be fooled by sites plastered with American flags, just because they are posting flags on every product does not mean the lids are American made. Check how long a company has been operating online (we've been online since 2017) and check for grammar and punctuation errors as well. If it sounds off, it probably is.
Every canner should watch to make sure their food is canned properly. Mason Jars that don't seal should be refrigerated immediately and used quickly. Canners who ignore this can have food spoil and go to waste, or worse, experience food poisoning and even death.
Amazon and dollar stores might have cheap and appealing lids available during this lid shortage, but is it worth the risk? Not only do you not know what your new lid is made of (all of the Newell Brands lids have been BPA-free since at least 2015), it may not be made well, leading to your canning lid failure.
Sizes can be off. Yes, a large part of what makes a mason jar so amazing is that it comes in one of two standard sizes, Wide Mouth and Regular Mouth. If you're buying lids from a cheap overseas supplier, you might find that the wide mouth lids you purchased were made in a hurry and don't actually fit your wide mouth or regular mouth jars well or at all.
Signs that you might be buying bad lids include:
Fake or low-quality images are a sign that the manufacturer or seller might not be reputable.
Keep an eye out for misspelling of common words or strange phrases. If the description uses words like 'silicone' in place of 'plastisol' or 'rubber', you might want to think twice.
Does the company have any history? Can you contact them? Do they have any means of customer service? If you're looking at lids from a fly-by-night Amazon seller, you're probably going to get substandard lids. The price might be lower, but the cost can be much higher.
Product reviews should also give you a big clue about whether the company or product is legitimate. If there are are no reviews that might indicate that the website is brand new, so you are taking your chances. Pay attention to the language used in the reviews. If all of the reviews say exactly the same thing, they are probably fake. If the product reviews are bad, then you probably want to steer clear.
Don't miss out!
The lid shortage has us all feeling blue, but you can make sure you don't miss out on the lids that are available.
Check here for our current stock here.
Shopping with Mason Jar Merchant FAQ's:
If you can add them to your cart and check out, we have them.
Many people are concerned that we are showing lids as available when they aren't available or are back-ordered, particularly with wide mouth lids. Though we aren't perfect, we only sell lids that we have on hand. We will explicitly let you know in the product title and description if a product is on order and not in stock yet.
Why do you have so many canning jars but not lids?
Here at Mason Jar Merchant, we're not just a seller of canning lids. That might surprise you if you've seen us in the news over the last year. In fact, we never set out to sell canning supplies at all until the lid shortage started. We specialize in our huge assortment of vintage and reclaimed jars, creative and useful mason jar accessories, and fun supplies for mason jar crafts - all with a focus on being healthy and eco-friendly. The jar is the star of the show here on our website. Until 2020 we primarily focused on local markets and pop-up shops. We didn't know about the shortage of lids until the middle of August 2020, when we started getting requests for more canning lids and canning lids in bulk. We quickly realized that giant swaths of North America were completely out of stock of canning lids for the home canner.
Why didn't Mason Jar Merchant know about the lid shortage / canning supply shortage and stock up?
Well, just like we mentioned above, we never set out to sell canning supplies. We are a small company and knew that we couldn't compete with numerous national and international box stores on price, so we focused on items that weren't readily available to the average shopper and decided that we would have everything for mason jars in one spot. And we did sell some canning lids, but they were more specialty products - not meant for the average canner.
We sold out of Ball lids first and all wide mouth lids second. We have been able to source more American made unbranded lids and more unbranded Ball lids, but we've not been able to get Ball branded lids (lids with the Ball logo on the top) in 18 months.
Sign up for back in stock notifications
If we are out of stock, rest assured we are doing everything we can to get more in stock as quickly as possible. You can sign up on our website to receive a notification once a product is back in stock, for any product, including lids, by clicking the button that reads "Out of stock? Click here." (Please note this button will only show up when we are out of stock in one or more variants inside a product page.) We will give estimates on when a product may be back in stock if we have any information to pass off, but in a lot of cases, our suppliers are out of stock as well.
We're doing our best to keep our costs as low as possible.
Please believe us when we say that here at Mason Jar Merchant we are keeping the prices as low as possible. We are looking forward to the supply of jars and lids getting back to normal as much and probably more than most of you. In the meantime, we will be continuing to supply you with as many jars and lids as we can, pun intended. ;)