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Small Producers Stymied By Pennsylvania’s Stalled Permit Process

January 23, 2015

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) has placed a temporary halt on issuing permits for so-called “special liquor order” wine and spirits, according to a report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The move is effectively blocking the sale of many smaller products, which are unable to get to market without a permit.

In spirits, the PLCB offers about 1,800 “regular” products for sale, and an additional 3,000 products are available through the special order process. In wine, the PLCB carries 2,400 “regular” wines and nearly 40,000 labels through special order.

The PLCB is blaming the delay on an order backlog caused by manpower shortages. Vendors say the process has been slow for the past six months, but it was not until this month the PLCB said that it cannot accept any new special orders. The PLCB added that it will take “some time to get back to a normal processing time frame,” noting that the number of special order products has roughly doubled over the past few years, contributing to the delays.

Pennsylvania’s specialty spirits and wine vendors are now either not taking orders or sitting on inventory that can’t be moved until the permit process resumes, the report said. On-premise sales are being particularly hard-hit, as the on-premise channel is the primary venue for special order products.

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