Important Role of Americaas Beer Distributors and Effective Alcohol Regulation Highlighted at NBWAas 73rd Annual Convention

CHICAGO, IL – Today the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) kicked off the first full day of its 73rd Annual Convention in Chicago, Illinois.

NBWA Chairman of the Board Mitch Watkins addressed the goals he laid out for 2010 including increasing the Association’s communications efforts, distributor participation in Association events as well as distributor education and outreach. He explained how education and outreach is vital to making sure that members of Congress, state regulators, attorneys general and the public are informed about the importance of state-based alcohol regulation.

Watkins also outlined the Association’s activities to address threats facing the state-based system of alcohol regulation, including advancing a distributor agenda and opposing ballot initiatives in Washington state. “This threat is real, it’s immediate, and make no mistake - the NBWA is fully engaged in the campaign to defeat this initiative. From the very start, NBWA has jumped in with both financial and subject matter expert support, and we’ll continue to assist the Protect our Communities campaign any way we can.”

NBWA President Craig Purser talked about the impact recent economic and political changes have had on the beer distribution industry. He also discussed ongoing challenges to America’s effective system of alcohol regulation, including the continued challenges to the system presented by litigation, deregulation by defunding state agencies and the latest and newest challenge – deregulation at the ballot box disguised as privatization.

Purser highlighted how the Comprehensive Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness (CARE) Act - which has 151 co-sponsors and is advancing through Congress – has already proven effective, stating, “It has highlighted the threat that states face from ongoing litigation. It has illuminated the fact that some would like to dramatically reduce a state’s ability to effectively regulate. And it is helping lawmakers understand the three-tier system and that all three tiers are independent for a reason. The system was set up so that separation between the tiers works for the public’s interest.”
James Hellman, President of Preferred Distributors, LLC, in Sparta, Wisconsin, moderated a panel of individuals interested in effective alcohol regulation entitled “The Great Masquerade: Deregulation Disguised as Privatization.” The panel focused on ballot initiatives that are being considered by voters in Washington state that would completely gut the state’s system of alcohol regulation. The panel included James Sgueo, President and CEO of the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association; Jerry O­­­­­­liver, former alcohol regulator and chief of police; Heather McClung, President of the Washington Brewers Guild; and Judy Cushing, President and CEO of the Oregon Partnership. Panelists addressed challenges that the public would face as a result of these proposals.

Following the General Session program, the Product Demonstration Showcase made a return appearance following its successful debut at the NBWA Annual Convention in 2008. The Showcase offered Convention attendees the opportunity to learn about new services and products from more than 100 different exhibitors. Some of the products on display included imported and domestic beer, non-alcoholic beverages, warehousing technology, fuel management systems, financial services software and promotional products.

NBWA’s 73rd Annual Convention continues Tuesday, October 5, at the Hyatt Regency Chicago in Chicago, Illinois.

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