WHAT IS A BEER AND WINE DISTRIBUTOR?

The people of North Carolina benefit from a system of state-based alcohol regulation that balances robust competition with community desires.  Today, consumers of legal drinking age have access to thousands of different brands and styles of beer and wine—from locally-produced products to large multinational labels and imports from around the world—all delivered through a safe, transparent and accountable system.

In North Carolina, we have independent beer and wine distributors who operate as an essential cog in a highly-successful three-tier system of alcohol regulation. Suppliers (brewers or wineries) create the product that distributors deliver to the 18,000-plus retail permittees across the state.  Those permittees include grocery stores, convenience stores, restaurants and bars.  This system works to protect the public and provide consumers with unparalleled choice and value.

Beer and wine distributors in North Carolina are family-owned companies.  These companies directly employ more than 5,600 men and women who earn annual wages and benefits averaging $71,385.  N.C. beer and wine distributors are responsible for the collection and payment of more than $140 million each year in excise taxes for the state.

Beer and wine distributors provide transportation, storage and maintenance for perishable products from the time it leaves the brewery/winery until it arrives at the retailer. Distributors ensure beer and wine are handled safely and sold only to licensed retailers.

Distributors secure beer and wine from a wide variety of brewers, wineries, and importers and preserve the perishable products in a temperature-controlled warehouse. They then deliver customized inventory based on the requirements of each individual retailer including restaurants, bars and neighborhood stores. After delivery, the distributor continues to monitor retailer shelves to ensure product freshness and integrity. This system gives consumers and retailers unparalleled access to a wide variety of choice and selection.
Beer and wine distributors are a vital component in assuring product safety for beer and wine consumers.  The distributor’s infrastructure, including state-of-the-art warehouses and fleets of temperature-controlled trucks and vehicles, combined with the warehousing, delivery, driver and merchandising personnel, ensures the efficient and safe delivery of a wide range of products, resulting in immense consumer choice at a great value. While providing choice and value to retailers and consumers, distributors work simultaneously with state regulators to ensure accountability of these unique products and an orderly marketplace. Distributors also remove and destroy beer reaching its expiration date, and are critical in tracking shipments in the event of a recall.
The distribution system provides a clear chain of custody and accountability in the sale of malt beverage and wine products, making it easier to police and penalize establishments that are found guilty of serving to underage patrons or otherwise violating the terms of their beer and wine permits.
The same regulations that provide accountability in malt beverage and wine sales also ensure that our state can efficiently and accurately collect taxes on alcohol products. Because North Carolina distributors monitor the sale of the products from the time it leaves the brewery/winery until it arrives at a licensed retail outlet, North Carolina distributors are best equipped to collect state excise taxes. It is easier to collect state excise taxes from licensed distributors than the thousands of retail establishments in our state that sell alcohol products.  On an annual basis, North Carolina beer and wine distributors collect and remit $140 million in excise taxes to the state.
The three tier distribution system also makes the most economic sense. It provides the best method for smaller breweries and wineries to get their products into a diverse marketplace and provides small retailers and consumers the best variety of choice and value. This system provides a level playing field for all brewers, wineries and retailers.
Alcohol is not like other consumer goods; a point well illustrated by the fact that it is the subject of two U.S. constitutional amendments (18th and 21st). Alcoholic beverages are unique and can have consequences if abused by adults or consumed by those underage. As society addresses problems like underage drinking and drunk driving, the importance of maintaining effective state alcohol regulation is critical.

Moreover, state regulation allows states the flexibility to deal with local circumstances. A one-size-fits-all approach to alcohol regulation simply doesn’t work. For example, most people in North Carolina feel very differently about alcohol than those in New York or Illinois. The 21st Amendment was designed to reflect local thought on the level of regulation needed for alcohol, and beer and wine distributors work hand in hand with state regulators to further the state’s different approaches to regulation.

Beer and wine distributors are leaders in their communities as small business owners, civic activists, parents, religious leaders and philanthropists. As such, the men and women of the beer and wine distributing industry know that they are their own best advocates when it comes to eliminating illegal underage purchase and consumption of licensed beverages and drunk driving.

Beer and wine distributors play a vital role in their communities by sponsoring a vast array of programs that promote responsible consumption. The programs range from providing free taxi rides home from a range of events and venues for those who do not have a designated driver, to sponsoring alcohol-free after-prom events and producing educational materials to help parents talk to their children about illegal underage drinking.

RESPONSIBILITY

America’s beer and wine distributors work hard to promote the responsible and legal consumption of alcoholic beverages by sponsoring and participating in many community-based efforts; such as, alcohol education programs in local schools, safe ride home programs, the creation and placement of public service announcements (PSAs) promoting responsibility, education materials, alcohol-free prom and graduation after-parties, safety training courses for alcohol beverage servers, safe boating campaigns and designated driver programs.

Beer & wine wholesalers operate within a strict state-based regulatory system that provides a transparent and accountable chain of custody in the sale of beer and wine, making it easier to enforce state laws and local ordinances. Working with their supplier and retailer partners, the American men and women of the beer and wine distribution industry play a critical role in the effort to eliminate drunk driving, alcohol abuse and the underage purchase and consumption of alcohol.

The U.S. beer industry has a long history of demonstrating a Commitment to Responsibility in promoting the moderate consumption of beer.

Because alcohol beverages are available at many social events, beer & wine distributors actively promote responsible consumption and the use of designated drivers. They also sponsor alternative transportation programs to help ensure that no one who has had too much to drink gets behind the wheel of a vehicle.

North Carolina beer distributors believe the best approach to combat drunk driving is to support effective, state-based solutions. NCBWWA supports the mandatory use of ignition interlocks for offenders with multiple DWI convictions and for drivers convicted of drunk driving with a blood alcohol content of .15 or higher, even for a first time offense.

  • Make certain alcohol is consumed by those of legal drinking age only.
  • Make a list of taxicab services and phone numbers in your community.
  • Always serve food with alcohol. Good food not only complements the beverages your guests are consuming but it also moderates the effects of alcohol.
  • In addition to alcohol beverages, provide a variety of drinks including coffee, soft drinks, fruit juice, bottle water and non-alcoholic beer.
  • Never force licensed beverages on your guests. Spacing drinks can help guests stay within their personal limits.
  • Encourage moderate consumption by deciding ahead of time the amount of alcohol beverages to include. Consider how long your event will last and calculate about one drink per hour for each guest. A “drink” is defined as 1.5 ounces of hard liquor, 5 ounces of table wine, 3 ounces of fortified wine, or 12 ounces of regular beer.
  • Stop serving alcohol one hour before the party ends. Remember, it takes approximately one hour for the body to metabolize one drink.
  • Consider hiring a bartender trained in professional and responsible serving methods so guests do not pour their own drinks. A trained bartender will be equipped to determine whether a guest has had too much to drink.
  • Never hesitate to take the keys away from someone who has had too much to drink. Be prepared to call a taxicab or provide a room in your home for a guest to stay over.
The North Carolina Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association is a proud supporter of the Underage Drinking Initiative which was launched in late 2014 by the N.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission.  Growing up has never been easy, and teens often face tough decisions. Beer and wine distributors are committed to ensuring that the products they provide are consumed legally, responsibly and safely. They work hard to educate families, students, teachers and school administrators about the consequences of illegal alcohol consumption. Hearing first-hand stories about the consequences of alcohol abuse can have a profound effect on students as they are confronted with making the right choices.