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Brewers Take Issue With Pennsylvania Privatization Bill

March 20, 2013

Brewers including Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors, Yuengling, Troegs and Victory are lining up in opposition to the privatization of wine and spirits sales in Pennsylvania as currently envisioned by the state legislature. The privatization bill, which recently passed the state’s House Liquor Control Committee, is set for debate in the full House today.

The brewers have taken issue with a number of changes made to the privatization push at the committee stage. Under the original proposal launched by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, the privatization of the state’s wine and spirits retail monopoly would also have extended availability of beer sales to supermarkets, big box outlets, gas stations and other outlets, but those measures were eliminated in committee at the behest of beer distributors, who say they will hurt business.

As currently configured, the bill would allow beer distributors first right of refusal on the 1,200 retail wine and spirits licenses to be auctioned by the state. The brewers above say if wine and spirits move into beer distributorships’ retail business—without the addition of new venues like supermarkets—the result will be a drop in their statewide shelf space.

In a letter to Pennsylvania congressmen, A-B, MillerCoors, the Pennsylvania Beer Association and the Brewers of Pennsylvania said, “House Bill 790 would result in the beer segment losing as much as 50% of the floor and shelf space within beer distributorships, which account for more than two-thirds of our sales within Pennsylvania.”

 

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