Alcohol Makers Trying to Work Around Distributors to Reach Consumers Directly
August 6th, 2015
At least 22 states considered bills this year that would allow alcohol makers to circumvent alcohol distributors and allow them to sell their products directly to consumers, Timereports.
Alcohol distribution, a $135 billion industry, is defending itself against efforts by brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev and the craft beer industry to distribute their own beer.
Distributors, or wholesalers, serve as the middlemen between alcohol makers and retailers. Distributors employ scores of lobbyists and give millions of dollars in campaign contributions, the article notes.
“The beer wholesalers are a lot like the teachers unions,” said John Conlin, a Colorado management consultant who works with beverage companies. “The teachers unions have incredible clout, too, and the reason is there are teachers in every congressional district out there… And historically that was the same with beer wholesalers.”
The state bills faced stiff opposition this year. State alcohol wholesaler alliances employed at least 315 registered lobbyists, according to an analysis of state records by the Center for Public Integrity.
Alcohol distributors gave about $14.6 million to state candidates, parties and ballot issue groups in the 2014 elections, compared with $5.3 million from alcohol manufacturers and $2 million from retailers, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics. Most of the alcohol lobbying money is spent at the state level, because alcohol is largely regulated at the state and local level.