Commonsense bill will enhance consumer choice, boost tens of thousands of Texas businesses

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) welcomes the introduction of SB 1288 by Senator Kelly Hancock, which would allow spirits ready-to-drink cocktails (RTDs) to be sold in grocery and convenience stores alongside beer- and wine-based counterparts that have similar alcohol content.

Representative Justin Holland introduced the House version of this bill, House Bill 2200, earlier this month.

“As industries innovate and new products become staples in the marketplace, it only makes sense for us to take a look at ways government can reduce regulatory red tape,” said Senator Hancock (R-Fort Worth). “I look forward to continuing to work on legislation that keeps free market principles at the core of Texas’ economic success.”

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.

“It makes no sense that consumers 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. “This is confusing to consumers and unnecessarily restricts our sales. Allowing these small businesses to sell spirits RTDs that have the same alcohol content as beer and wine products we already sell, will support the growth of tens of thousands of businesses across our state. It’s time to pass this commonsense measure in support of Texas consumers and local businesses.”

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 spirits RTDs gain in popularity, states all across the U.S. are taking a look at beverage laws to ensure consumers of these products are being treated fairly, and Texas consumers should not get left behind,” said Chris Swonger, president and CEO of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. “These products are no different from the beer and wine RTDs already being sold in grocery and convenience stores. Legislative leaders in Texas should not be picking winners and losers in the marketplace. Texas consumers deserve better.”

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 on the myth that some alcohol is “softer” than others sends a dangerous message to consumers.