Post #G21-047: Canning lid shortage revisited mid-August 2021

Posted on August 18, 2021

This post is about the ongoing shorting of lids for home canning in the U.S.  The only value-added here is that I’ve been tracking this for a while, so I can give some perspective on how things are evolving.

Briefly, U.S.-made disposable lids are much harder to find now than they were when I posted on this back in May.  In my area, I found one retailer (Tractor Supply) that would ship them to store for pickup.  On-line, they are still available from Amazon, but almost nowhere else.  On-line prices appear unchanged to up slightly.

By contrast, there is no on-line shortage of foreign- (i.e., Chinese-) made lids.  Prices appear to be falling, with some Amazon offers now in the $0.15-$0.22 per lid range, for lids in bulk.  That’s down from about $0.30 when I checked back in May 2021.

U.S.-made re-usable lids (Tattler, Harvest Guard) are unchanged in price, but only the more expensive ones (Tattler, about $1 per lid) are freely available.  The less-expensive Harvest Guard lids appear to be back-ordered by about a month.

U.S.-made disposable lids

These are almost entirely Ball, Kerr, and Golden Harvest brand.  These are all made by the same company, a subdivision of Newell Brands.  That corporate conglomerate ownership is discussed in Post #G21-009.

There may be some store private-label brands that are U.S. made, but I have never been able to verify that.  I read one on-line source suggesting that Walmart’s house brand of lids (Mainstay) appears to be made by Ball/Kerr.  Not sure if that’s true or not.

How has the market changed since my last post:

Back in mid-May, these were still sporadically available at at least one of my local Walmarts, and I was able to show that they were in-stock and on the shelf in about 15% of U.S. Walmarts (Post #G21-025).  Where they were not in stock, Walmart was willing to ship you up to three packages (of 12 lids) for a reasonable price.  In addition, these were frequently available at my local ACE Hardware and some of my local grocery stores (Post #G21-020).

Currently (8/18/2021):  Nothing is on the local store shelves.  These aren’t even listed on the Walmart website, and haven’t been for at least a month.  On every shopping trip my wife and I take to any retailer that sells canning supplies, we check for lids.  Near as I can tell, there are no packages of lids for sale on the shelf in any bricks-and-mortar retailers in my area that I frequent.

Checking all the retailers in the area, Tractor Supply says they can have some for me at my local store (Manassas, VA) in two days.  And if I were willing to drive quite a bit, there are two packages on the shelf in Marshall, VA.  But they won’t ship them directly to me.  So, apparently Tractor Supply has some ready for distribution to their stores, in some areas.

The best I can get out of any of my other local retailers is a “call store first” notice from Southern States.  All the rest of the places I could drive to, that I know stock lids, show nothing.  Not even boxes of bands-and-lids, which work out to about $0.50 per lid.

On-line?  Amazon still lists what appear to be legitimate vendors offering U.S.-made lids in large lots for around $0.70 per lid.  Uline (an industrial packaging supply firm) listed them back in May, but no longer lists lids.  I haven’t stumbled across any other on-line mainstream retailers offering genuine Ball lids.

Foreign-made disposable lids

Much of what you are offered on line consists of Chinese-made lids.  Some companies are up-front about it.  Many of them try to hide that.

Basically, if it’s not brand-name Ball, Kerr, or Golden Harvest, based on what I’ve seen, chances are you are looking at Chinese-made lids.  Almost no matter what the website marketing the lids has to say, or however many American flags they display on their web page.

I’m only looking at Amazon.  At least there, the vendors seem to be required to disclose that lids are not American-made.  Based on the comments, some quality problems were evident for quite a few of these imported lids.  And, because the manufacturers have largely figured out how to game those ratings, even if you see high ratings, you’re taking a gamble no matter what the average rating says.

How has the market changed since my last post?

The only change I note is that foreign-made lids are getting cheaper.  The typical offer is now around $0.22 per lid for lids in bulk, and I am seeing a few offers for as low as $0.15 per lid.  I’m pretty sure that’s trending cheaper than when I looked back in May.

U.S. made re-usable lids.

The original and more-expensive brand (Tattler) appears to be available in any quantity.  These run about $1 per lid/seal, but those are both re-usable.  The cheaper knock-offs (Harvest Guard) are available for about $0.76/lid.

How have things changed since my last post?

The Harvest Guard lids are now back-ordered by about a month, based on the Harvest Guard website.