Don’t Panic, But The Topo Chico Shortage is Getting Real

Temporarily Out of Stock labels at a North Texas Tom Thumb are hard to swallow.
Lauren Drewes Daniels
Temporarily Out of Stock labels at a North Texas Tom Thumb are hard to swallow.
This weekend a customer at a Tom Thumb asked a manager, “When is Topo Chico going to be back in stock?” The manager responded, to the dismay of all eardrums within hearing distance, that they don’t know because there’s a glass shortage.

A Topo Chico shortage was first reported this summer, but at that time, stores still had bottles and cases in stock.

"Due to extremely strong consumer demand and a shortage of raw materials, our stock of Topo Chico is temporarily tight," the Coca-Cola-owned company told WFFA in a statement back in early August.

Now things are looking a bit bleaker.

At the time, Coca-Cola didn't say the shortage was glass, but other bits of new points to that. Park Street, a liquor industry consulting firm, explained the shortage in a post; glass production has largely moved overseas and has gotten caught up in the shipping quagmire developed since the pandemic.

Topo Chico occupies a special place in many Texans’ hearts, right between Whataburger and Buc-ee’s. It’s a hangover remedy, grandma’s prescription for an upset stomach and a great dance partner for any manner of vodkas or gins, especially on a sunny hot day.

Plus, there’s the lore that gives the punchy carbonated water mystique. Legend has it that an Aztec princess was afflicted with a terrible, incurable disease. She was taken to the secret water source where the sick would only need to bath and drink to regain “vigor, joy, strength and refreshment.” Like all good fairy tales that serve as an inception point for bottled carbonated water, the princess recovered. Topo Chico is still bottled and sourced from the same original spot in Monterrey, Mexico.

It’s not just mineral water that is suffering from a worldwide glass shortage; this weekend Buenos Aires Times reported “Argentina’s famed vineyards are struggling to find wine bottles amid a global shortage of glass.” The shortages there are exacerbated by a fire at a glass facility in Mendoza, a province in the Andes mountains where most Argentine wine is produced. In England, Glasgow Distillery Co. is having a hard time getting bottles, leaving them with stacks of barreled whiskey.
In a recent Topo Chico post on Instagram, comments indicate there are shortages from California to North Carolina.

Ports continue to experience extensive log jams; ships filled with raw materials and Christmas decorations are waiting days, even weeks, to unload. Here’s some perspective of the scale of the shipping problems from the Wall Street Journal:

As of Thursday [Oct. 7], there were 497 large container ships waiting to dock outside ports in Asia, Europe and North America, and the delay of vessels arriving into U.S. and Canadian ports from the Far East has increased from 14 hours in June of 2020 to almost 13 days this September, according to eeSea, which provides data on the container market. 

The bottleneck isn't expected to unravel until at least sometime next year.

We reached out to Coca-Cola for a statement and will update if we hear back.