Commonsense bill will boost small businesses, support consumer choice & raise tax revenue
The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) welcomes the introduction of HB 2200 by Representative Justin Holland, calling the bill “a commonsense reform that will modernize Texas laws to provide fair treatment for spirits-based ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails.” Despite many of these RTD products having the same or lower alcohol-by-volume (ABV) than their beer- and wine-based counterparts, they are prohibited from being sold in grocery and convenience stores alongside those products.
“In Texas, beer- and wine-based RTDs can be sold in more than 30,000 locations, including grocery and convenience stores,” said Representative Holland. “Meanwhile, spirits RTDs with the same or lower amounts of alcohol can only be sold in 3,200 locations. My bill closes this loophole, providing economic opportunity to tens of thousands of Texas businesses.”
Providing equal access to spirits RTDs will help protect consumer choice and increase convenience in Texas. A recent survey showed consumers support greater access to these products, including in grocery and convenience stores, with 86 percent agreeing that spirits RTDs should be sold where beer and wine are available for purchase.
“Consumers simply don’t understand why they can come into our stores and pick up malt-based seltzers but can’t do the same with their favorite spirits-based canned cocktails,” said Paul Hardin, president/CEO of Texas Food & Fuel Association. “Allowing our members to sell these lower-abv products would not only support their growth, but the growth of many Texas-owned businesses looking to get into the RTD market. These products contain the same or lower amounts of alcohol than beer- and wine-based beverages and there is no reason to treat them differently.”
The distilled spirits industry is a significant driver of economic activity in Texas, contributing to the vibrancy of the manufacturing, hospitality, tourism and agriculture industries. There are currently 92,000 jobs in the state depending on the spirits industry, generating more than $9.6 billion in state economic activity each year. Greater access to spirits RTDs will allow the industry to contribute even more.
“As someone from Texas, I know how frustrating it can be to have to go from store to store simply to purchase my favorite canned cocktails when I can easily buy similar beer or wine products at grocery and convenience stores already,” said Chris Swonger, president and CEO of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. “It is past time for Texas to do right by small businesses and consumers and equalize access to spirits RTDs. Consumers are clear: they want greater access to these incredibly popular beverages. Lawmakers need to listen to their constituents and update the laws accordingly.”
Texas is one of many states taking a closer look at this issue to ensure that producers of spirits-based RTDs are being treated fairly, recognizing that treating beverages differently based off of the myth that some alcohol is “softer” than others sends a dangerous message to consumers.