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California bill supports spirits-based RTDs

The US state of California has introduced a bill that allows spirits-based ready-to-drink (RTD) products to be sold under the same licence used for beer and wine.

California RTD
California has introduced a new bill in support of spirits-based RTDs

Trade body the Distilled Spirits Council of the US (Discus) welcomed the introduction of bill SB 277, which provides fairer treatment for spirits-based RTDs in the marketplace.

The bill provides consumers with greater access to spirit-based RTDs, as retailers were required to carry a more expensive licence for the category, when compared to beer and wine-based variants.

In California, beer- and wine-based RTDs are sold in more than 28,000 locations. Meanwhile, spirits-based RTDs are only sold in approximately 14,000 locations, Discus said.

“The ready-to-drink market is booming, and with new innovation comes new opportunities to look at and update our laws,” said Adam Smith, vice president of government relations at Discus.

“Senator [Bill] Dodd’s bill helps keep California at the forefront of the modern marketplace and meets the growing consumer demand for spirits RTD products.

“Spirits RTDs often contain the same or lower amounts of alcohol than beer- and wine-based beverages, so there is no reason to treat them differently by requiring a prohibitively expensive licence to carry them.

“Consumers are clear: they want greater access to these incredibly popular beverages, and SB 277 helps achieve that.”

There are currently 143,000 jobs in California supported by the spirits industry, generating more than US$16.67 billion in state economic activity annually, Discus noted.

Discus estimates that greater access to spirits-based RTDs could generate US$60 million in additional excise tax revenue for the state.

A recent survey by Discus found that consumers wanted greater access to spirits-based RTDs, including at grocery and convenience stores, with 86% agreeing that these products should be sold where beer and wine are available to buy.

In January last year, California passed a bill to permanently allow distillers to ship their spirits directly to consumers.

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