Trump's Tariffs Could Make These Popular Products More Expensive

The protectionist trade policy also threatens jobs in industries from Kentucky bourbon to Wisconsin cranberries.

American companies that rely heavily on aluminum and steel have raised alarm that President Donald Trump’s tariffs on imports of the metals will raise costs and hurt workers.

In two weeks, the U.S. will begin collecting a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports, Trump announced Thursday. Canada and Mexico are the only two countries exempted, for now. Some U.S. trade partners have already signaled they’ll slap retaliatory tariffs on U.S.-made goods ― with consequences that could affect American jobs and retail prices.

In response to the news, several companies said they may need to raise the prices of some common goods. (Though the hikes may be overblown for a variety of reasons, including the fact that many companies purchase steel and aluminum from domestic producers.)

Here are some of the items that may cost more soon.


The beer industry makes its cans out of aluminum. MillerCoors ― which has upped the amount of beer it sells in aluminum cans ― and Anheuser-Busch both released scathing statements warning of job losses across the industry and increased prices for consumers.

The 10-percent tariff on aluminum “will create a new $347.7 million tax on America’s beverage industry, including brewers and beer importers, and result in the loss of 20,291 American jobs,” Jim McGreevy, president and CEO of the Beer Institute trade group, said in a statement.  

Yet the price of a pack of beer cans would likely only rise by a few cents, the Beer Institute added, given that one can costs about 10 cents to make to begin with.


The automobile industry wouldn’t exist without steel and aluminum, and the tariffs could cost Ford and General Motors $1 billion each per year, according to Goldman Sachs. Both companies, however, mostly use U.S.-made steel.

Ford warned  in a statement that Trump’s tariffs “could result in an increase in domestic commodity prices — harming the competitiveness of American manufacturers.” 

The Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association came out in staunch opposition to the tariffs, arguing they jeopardized 871,000 U.S. jobs in the motor vehicle parts industry.

“This is not a step in the right direction,” the group’s president and CEO, Steve Handschuh, said.

Household Appliances

U.S. appliance makers, including the giant Whirlpool Corp., won a competitive advantage in January, when Trump imposed a tariff of up to 50 percent on imported washing machines. That edge would slip if American companies now have to spend more on steel to make washers and dryers. 

The European Union  promised swift retaliation for the metal tariffs, targeting some of the most popular items it imports from the United States.

“If the Americans impose tariffs on steel and aluminum, then we must treat American products the same way,” European Commissioner Jean-Claude Juncker said last week. 

E.U. Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said Thursday a complete list was being drawn up, but suggested it would include these products, many of which happen to be produced in Republican-dominated parts of the U.S.:


New bottles of Maker's Mark bourbon on the conveyor belt pass by a worker after being hand dipped with their signature red wa
New bottles of Maker's Mark bourbon on the conveyor belt pass by a worker after being hand dipped with their signature red wax, on their way to packaging at the Maker's Mark Distillery plant in Loretto, Kentucky January 23, 2014.

Foreign taxes on the American distilled spirits industry would come at a time of heightened demand abroad. Bourbon sales have steadily risen across the E.U. in the last five years, although the bloc’s best-selling brands, like Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark, are owned by a Japanese company, Bloomberg News notes.

The tariffs would “harm consumers through higher prices and more limited product availability, and significantly threaten the distilling renaissance that is creating industry jobs and generating billions in capital investment,” the Kentucky Distillers’ Association said in a statement.

Steve Beam, a descendent of Jim Beam who runs a Kentucky distillery, warned as early as last November that tariffs of this kind would cause a loss of competitive advantage.

“They could make it more expensive for the consumer. Everybody loses in that deal,” Beam said.

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter at a German supermarket, March 8, 2018.
Peanut butter at a German supermarket, March 8, 2018.

The demand for peanut butter across Europe isn’t exactly through the roof, and countries like Argentina export many more nuts to the E.U. than America does, indicating that slapping a tariff on the spread could be more of a symbolic move than anything else.

“If you look at the list of products, they’re very iconic American products,” Patrick Archer, president of the American Peanut Council, told The Washington Post. “Peanut butter certainly fits into that list.”

Wisconsin Cranberries

Wisconsin alone exports more than 95 million pounds of cranberries to the E.U. annually, said Tom Lochner, executive director of the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association.

Trump’s measures “would significantly hinder our ability to compete in these markets,” he lamented.

Orange Juice

The tariffs would impact an already struggling citrus industry. Orange juice production and consumption has been on a downward trend due to lower orange supply and significant damage from natural disasters.

Harley-Davidson Motorcycles

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, speaks during a news conference following a tour of the Harley-Dav
U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, speaks during a news conference following a tour of the Harley-Davidson Inc. facility in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, U.S., on Monday, Sept. 18, 2017.

The U.S.-based motorcycle giant exports about 16 percent of its motorcycles to Europe, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal. The E.U. had threatened to slap retaliatory tariffs on the company before, when former President George W. Bush imposed steel tariffs in 2002.

“Import tariffs on steel and aluminum will drive up costs for all products made with these raw materials, regardless of their origin,” the company said in a statement. “Additionally, a punitive, retaliatory tariff on Harley-Davidson motorcycles in any market would have a significant impact on our sales, our dealers, their suppliers and our customers in those markets.”


Levi's jeans seen on March 8, 2018 in Berlin, Germany.
Levi's jeans seen on March 8, 2018 in Berlin, Germany.

“We support open markets and free trade where everyone plays by the rules,” Levi Strauss said in a statement. “Unilateral tariff impositions risk retaliation and destabilizing the global economy, in which case American brands, workers and consumers will ultimately suffer.”