WSWA and ABL Tell Department of Justice U.S. Consumers Enjoy Most Dynamic, Innovative Market in World

Jun 06, 2018
Playing field for beverage alcohol is one of constant and intense competition, industry associations say

Two leading beverage alcohol industry associations told the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) that the ever-evolving beverage alcohol marketplace is evidence that current state-based regulatory systems guiding the industry have succeeded in balancing regulation with competition while ensuring an innovative and diverse purchasing environment and promoting public safety for consumers.


The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) and American Beverage Licensees (ABL) filed joint comments with the government agency last week to share their expertise in an ongoing series of DOJ-led panel sessions exploring the relationship between competition and regulation.


Comments submitted jointly by ABL Executive Director John Bodnovich and WSWA President and CEO Craig Wolf recommended that efforts to deregulate the industry are not warranted because the current legal systems underpinning the U.S. marketplace protect competition and promote pro-competitive effects of innovation, product choice, and overall more efficient alcohol industries.


Their comments cited beer sector research led by Boston Consulting Group that found “today’s system of alcohol distribution and state alcohol laws create an open market for brewers of all sizes, large and small…. Regulators of the beer industry, which is one of the most highly regulated industries in the U.S., should recognize that the marketplace is working. And they should be skeptical of complaints (legal and otherwise) that the marketplace favors only large players.”


WSWA and ABL told DOJ, “No other country in the world offers consumers the choice, variety, and innovative products that Americans have available when it comes to beer, wine and spirits. This environment is made possible by a fundamentally transparent, accountable beverage alcohol market that is the best in the world in terms of safety, choice, and innovation.”


“The playing field for beverage alcohol is one of constant and intense competition. From nearly every perspective, beverage alcohol demonstrates how robust state laws governing producing, distribution and retail provide benefit to consumers while satisfying the policy interests of the given state. These laws create opportunity for entrepreneurs to enter this exciting industry by ensuring fairness, thereby allowing all members of the industry to compete on even terms. We encourage DOJ to recognize that beverage alcohol is unique and requires a policy balance that promotes competition, innovation, and quality products with a well-regulated system that ensures public safety,” the comments concluded.


In March, Wolf delivered oral remarks at the first in the series of panel sessions and submitted remarks for the record on behalf of WSWA, a copy of which is available here.  


WSWA is the national trade association representing the wholesale tier of the wine and spirits industry, dedicated to advancing the interests and independence of wholesalers, distributors and brokers of wine and spirits. Founded in 1943, WSWA has more than 380 member companies in 50 states and the District of Columbia, and its members distribute more than 80 percent of all wine and spirits sold at wholesale in the U.S.


American Beverage Licensees is the preeminent national trade association for beverage alcohol retailers. Direct retail beverage alcohol sales in the United States generate as many as 1.77 million well-paying jobs. ABL’s thousands of on-premise and off-premise licensee members are independent and often family-owned establishments. The beverage retailing industry pays over $19.3 billion in federal taxes and $16.9 billion in state and local taxes. To learn more about ABL, visit