86% of Consumers Back Spirits RtD in Grocery, C-Stores: Swonger

"It's time to can outdated alcohol laws," Chris Swonger, DISCUS president/CEO, told the DISCUS economic impact briefing. Some 86% of consumers agree spirits RTDs should be sold where beer/malt and wine RTDs are sold, he said, adding legislators are looking to create a more level playing field in response to consumer demand.  

Alcohol is alcohol, Swonger said, noting that 31 states permit grocery stores to sell spirits RTDs, and 29 states permit it in convenience stores.

Expanding sales opportunities for spirits-based RtDs is a key public policy objective for this year. The top victory last year was the suspension of retaliatory tariffs on American Whiskey in the steel-aluminum dispute, "and we are working diligently to ensure they never come back," Swonger said.

In 2023, DISCUS is working to secure the permanent suspension of retaliatory tariffs on all distilled spirits.  In India, DISCUS is seeking the reduction of India's 150% tariff on American spirits.

Michael Mariano, of Tourism Economics, a consultancy, discussed the direct economic impacts of distillery tourism in California, New York and Texas in 2019. Spending by distillery visitors at distilleries and off-site, was estimated at $238.9 million for California, $348.2 million for New York, and $396 million for Texas.

Adding indirect and induced business sales to the direct sales of distillery tourism represents the total economic impact.  In California, the total was $417.8 million, New York,$546.4 million, and in Texas, $715.2 million.  All this generates significant tax revenue, he said.  In New York, for instance, $115.1 million in state and federal tax revenue was generated.

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