By Steve Mysinger
Out-of-state, big-box grocery stores label Oregon’s alcohol laws “antiquated and outdated”. In fact, these laws have given Oregon’s craft brewers the tools to get to market, maximizing the extensive product selection for Oregon consumers.
Great Selection, Fair Price
Great product selection, at a fair price, is the key to the success of the small Oregon craft brewer. In Oregon, every retailer, small or large, buys beer for the same price. We do not allow quantity discount purchasing, and we require the retailer to make a cash or electronic funds payment immediately. These regulatory tools allow smaller producers to compete on a level playing field with large, multi-national producers and prevent the retailer from strong-arming producers and distributors. By giving small producers this competitive access to the marketplace, these tools allow for the vast selection of products available to the Oregon consumer.
Grocers Like High Volume
The system designed by the large grocers is made to move high-volume products, not those produced by small brewers. For all products on the shelf other than alcohol, the grocer is allowed to require a producer to extend credit terms and quantity discounts, rewarding shelf-space to a producer who can extend the best terms. Need proof? Just walk down the aisles of your local big-box grocery store. You can have potato chips or toothpaste, if you want the one or two products they have on the shelf.
Distributors Provide Access
Oregon’s beer distributors provide access to market for brewers across the state. We help brewers maximize sales and build brands through store-level merchandising, product promotion, marketing initiatives and local event sponsorships. We ensure predictable product availability for licensed retailers through delivery frequency, warehousing, inventory management, space management programs and category management advice. We enhance retailers’ profitability by educating retailers and consumers about new product categories, beer styles and ways to best enjoy beer. We maximize product choice for consumers by selling a vast array of beer brands and styles. And, we safeguard product quality and integrity, quickly identifying and removing any substandard or unsafe products from the marketplace.
Beer distributors operate within a time-tested regulatory system. Beer distributors act as the linchpin of the three-tier system (brewers and importers; distributors; and retailers) through which federal, state and local governments collect taxes and enforce their alcohol laws. We protect against illegal distribution of alcoholic beverages by ensuring that sales and deliveries are made only to licensed retailers. We provide accountability by tracking product with detailed records that make transparent the chain of custody of alcoholic beverages from supplier to retailers.
Jobs and Economic Benefits
Distributors and brewers deliver direct economic benefit to the communities they serve through quality local jobs, local business-to-business commerce, local investments and local tax revenue. We contribute indirect economic benefit by providing services that improve efficiency, choice and profits for trading partners, plus fair prices for consumers. Oregon’s distributors and brewers provide thousands of quality full-time jobs and benefits in Oregon. Distributors provide logistics and supply expertise that optimizes efficiency for trading partners, especially small brewers and retailers. We stimulate the local economy with investments in infrastructure and capital assets. And, distributors and brewers provide a sustained economic multiplier effect through income taxes, property taxes, excise taxes and fees and consumer spending. We are local businesses, ensuring that income produced by the community remains in the community in the form of jobs, investment, commerce, philanthropic activity and support of state and local governments. We provide leadership and financial support for local community, civic and philanthropic initiatives.
In Oregon, we have a long history of working together with the Oregon Brewers Guild (OBG). In addition to sponsoring OBG major events, we are proud of the fact that we helped pass the law that allows small brewers in Oregon to self-distribute. Every legislative session, we work together to keep the beer tax off the negotiating table. Together, we will correct the false information spread by out-of-state stores that our laws are somehow ineffective or antiquated. Meeting with our 90 Senators and Representatives in the Oregon Legislature, the Governor’s office, and the OLCC, together we share our success story and encourage leaders to keep their hands out of a system that has allowed for the enormous success of the craft brew industry in Oregon.