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America's Beer Distributors Deliver Choice and Value, One Beer at a Time

Jul 2, 2008
From imported and domestic, to large and small, the key players in providing consumers their favorite malt brands are the beer distributors. It's because of them that Americans can enjoy an immense amount of choice and variety. According to the National Beer Wholesalers Association, beer distributors allow thousands of beer brands - from multinational beers to the smallest local microbrews - equal access to the market. Their work helps to ensure a level playing field for large and small brewers.

Once a beer leaves the brewery to the time it arrives at the retailer, beer distributors provide transportation, refrigerated storage and preservation of perishable malt beverages. Distributors maintain a fleet of trucks and employ numerous employees. And, it's these employees who help deliver a customized inventory to diversely sized retailers including restaurants, bars and neighborhood stores.

Following delivery, distributors continue to monitor retailer shelves to ensure product freshness and integrity of product, disposing of beer reaching its expiration date. This system affords customers and retailers unparalleled access to a tremendous variety of styles and producers of beers. As part of the process, distributors also work with state regulators to ensure accountability and an orderly marketplace.

In addition to enabling access to a wide variety of beers, the distribution process also makes the most economic sense. Large and small breweries are able to participate. Smaller breweries can grow and compete. Furthermore, distributors can help unlock the market for startup and small beer brands and other innovative beverages. Because of the economic efficiencies of the distribution system, retailers are able to offer hundreds of choices at a great value.

Beer distributors are also locally invested in their communities. While they are often closely identified with the brands they sell, beer distributors are actually small business owners active in economic development and local business groups. Distributors also support local events such as community festivals, sporting events and philanthropies. For example, CITY Beverage-Chicago is the official distributor for big-name events such as the Chicago Blues Festival and Taste of Chicago. The distributor has also been the exclusive distributor for the local South Side Irish Parade, a community-inspired St. Patrick's Day celebration for 27 years.

Beer distributors are also an integral part of the transparent chain of custody in the sale of beer, making it easier to enforce state laws and local ordinances. The system also regulates retail sales, ensuring that retailers hold the appropriate licenses, do not sell to those under the legal drinking age, pay state and local taxes, and generally comply with state and local alcohol beverage laws. Because distributors retain the ability to monitor the sale of products from the time the beer leaves the brewery, until it arrives at a licensed retail outlet, distributors are often best equipped to collect state taxes. Many states find it easier to collect taxes from a limited number of federally and state licensed beer distributors than the hundreds or thousands of retail establishments in their state that sell alcohol products.

Fast Facts About Beer Distribution:

1. The nation's 1,908 beer distributors are responsible for creating more than 92,000 American jobs, generating $7.6 billion in wages and benefits for employees.
2. Beer distributors offer quality wages and healthcare for employees, as well as specialized training for everyone, from truck drivers to their sales team.
3. Every dollar spent on beer distribution adds $1.50 in economic activity - generating .30 cents in federal tax revenue and .18 cents in state and local tax revenue.
4. Distributors reduce inventory costs for all retailers by managing portfolios of perishable products.

(According to Economic Impact Study conducted by John Dunham and Associates, 2005 and Guerilla Economics, LLC)
About the Author
Soave Enterprises diversified management and investment company founded by Detroit businessman Anthony L. Soave that provides strategic planning, financial and other management resources to its affiliated business ventures in the real estate, automotive retailing, beer distribution, scrap metal, industrial services and transportation industries, among others. For more information on Anthony Soave and Soave Enterprises, please visit the website.
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