Liquor Industry News 2-28-13

Franklin Liquors


Thursday February 28th 2013

Today Is A Biodynamic ROOT Day.


Australia’s Treasury Wine upbeat on H2; shares jump


Source: Reuters

Wed, Feb 27 2013


Australia’s Treasury Wine Estates Ltd, the world’s second-largest wine company, expects a significant recovery in the second half driven by sales of luxury and popular prestige wines, particularly in Asia.


Treasury Wine, the maker of Penfolds, Beringer and Wolf Blass, said Thursday it is betting on higher sales of middle- and up-market wines to drive second-half earnings, especially in the growth markets of Asia, after higher costs and poor 2011 vintages contributed to a 23 percent fall in first-half profit.


Chief executive David Dearie said the company remained committed to the overall guidance of “mid-single digit” growth in earnings before interest and tax in fiscal-year 2013, with the outlook brightened by “extremely good” vintages in key regions such as California and New Zealand.


The Melbourne-based company said its first-half net profit after tax and before one-off items was A$45.0 million ($45.9 million), compared with A$58.6 million a year earlier.


Earnings before interest and tax were down 20 percent to A$73.4 million from a year ago.


Last October, Treasury Wine had warned its first-half earnings would slide 20 percent, blaming poor weather for denting production of premium wines and higher corporate costs.


Treasury Wine’s shares jumped 5.5 percent to A$5.17 by 0121 GMT, compared with a 0.7 gain on the ASX index.


The company is trading at a price-to-earnings ratio of 35.28, significantly higher than a sector average of 14.72, which analysts said indicated the market was anticipating either a huge earnings upgrade or a takeover transaction.




In a briefing after the results, Dearie said Treasury Wine would continue to invest in Asia, particularly China, a region that outperformed in its first-half results.


Asia contributed 12.5 percent of EBIT growth in the period, while most other regions declined.


China has become a key market for Treasury Wine, which has been losing ground in the larger U.S. market to its bigger rival, Constellation Brands.




Treasury Wine Profit Beats Estimates on Higher Asia Sales


Source: Bloomberg

By David Fickling

Feb 28, 2013


Treasury Wine Estates Ltd. (TWE), Australia’s largest winemaker, posted first-half profit that beat analyst estimates as rising Asian sales and cost-cutting limited negative currency movements. The shares surged.


Net income rose 31 percent to A$52 million ($53 million) in the six months ended December from A$40 million a year earlier, the Melbourne-based company said in a statement today. That exceeded the A$47 million median estimate of six analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News.


Better availability of luxury and premium wines over the next six months should support demand for higher-value labels that make up as much as 70 percent of operating profit, Chief Executive Officer David Dearie told an investor call. Treasury has been buying land and planting new vines to develop higher- margin wines as the strong Australian dollar makes cheaper labels less profitable.


“Treasury Wine has performed better than the branded Australian market,” Stuart Jackson, an analyst at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in Sydney, wrote in a note to clients Feb. 5. Asian growth was “extremely robust,” he wrote.


Treasury shares rose 8.2 percent to close at A$5.30 in Sydney, their best performance since July 2011 and a four-month high. The move capped a 36 percent gain over the past year that’s outpaced the 20 percent advance in the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index.


Forecast Earnings


The winemaker is counting on luxury and high-end products to boost earnings as the strength of the Australian dollar makes lower-priced export labels unprofitable and domestic liquor chains push for cheaper products under their own labels.


The dollar means it’s “hard to compete at more commercial or popular price points,” Dearie said in the investor call. A lack of investment in rebranding Australian wines was exacerbating this effect and the country’s federal and state governments need to do more to support the industry, he said.


The global wine industry is “edging ever closer to supply and demand balance,” Dearie said in a statement, reaffirming a forecast that Treasury’s earnings would grow this year in the “mid-single digits”.


Strong Dollar


The earnings measure excludes interest, tax, and adjustments for the value of vineyards, and assumes no move in exchange rates. The Australian dollar rose 1.4 percent against the U.S. dollar during the six-month period, and ended the year up about 15 percent from its level three years earlier.


Oversupplies of wine have depressed industry profits in recent years.


Global stocks of wine declined by nearly four billion liters between 2006 and 2011 to at least a 10-year low as production slipped below consumption, according to an October report by Rabobank International.


Treasury’s sales during the period declined 1.4 percent to A$851 million as volumes fell 2.5 percent to 16.5 million nine- liter cases.


Treasury, spun off from Fosters Group Ltd. in 2011 before the brewer was taken over by SABMiller Plc (SAB), has posted profit increases in three consecutive semi-annual periods, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.


Earnings before interest, tax, one-time items and adjustments for the values of its vineyards dropped 20 percent to A$73 million as a result of the strengthening of the Australian dollar, the company said.


Overseas sales accounted for about 65 percent of total revenue during the year ended June 2012.




Molson Sues SABMiller Over Canadian Distribution


Source: WSJ


Feb 27th


Molson Coors Brewing Co. TAP -0.47% and SABMiller SAB.LN -0.02% PLC, two of the world’s largest brewers, are fighting over the terms of a licensing agreement in Canada that the latter company is aiming to terminate this summer.


SABMiller is planning to end a licensing pact in July that gave Molson the exclusive rights to distribute its products in Canada. Though Miller brands make up only a small percentage of Molson’s Canadian sales, SABMiller believes there are opportunities for the brands to perform better in that market.


Canada is an important market for Molson, a region where it is the second-largest brewer by volume and commands 39% of the market. Roughly 15% of Molson’s total world-wide volume was derived from Canada last year, though the company doesn’t break out how much of those sales were tied to SABMiller’s brands.


The companies also work together in the U.S. market, through a joint venture called MillerCoors.


But Molson’s Canadian results were disappointing last year. Volume slid 3.9% in 2012, hurt by a beer excise tax increase in Quebec and the National Hockey League lockout, which ended in January.


The Canadian beer market is highly competitive, as large and smaller brewers fight for market share in a mature market where overall volume is falling. Canadians have shown a stronger preference in other alcoholic beverages, like spirits. Large events, like the recent Winter Olympics in Vancouver, provide only a short-term jolt to beer demand.


Molson-which makes Coors Light and Carling-has claimed SABMiller sought to end the pact after it failed to meet certain volume targets. The company has filed a lawsuit in Canada, seeking an injunction to prevent SABMiller from terminating the licensing agreement, which began in 2003.


Spokesmen from both companies declined to comment on the litigation.


SABMiller disagrees with Molson claims that SABMiller’s written notice warning of plans to terminate the pact breached the license agreement. SABMiller “maintains its right to terminate” the licensing agreement with Molson, saying that it gave the necessary six-month notice of termination.


SABMiller also said it is exploring other options for import and distribution of Miller Lite and other beers in Canada.


SABMiller said Wednesday its decision to terminate the pact “reflects our belief that there exists the opportunity to grow Miller’s brands in Canada.”


“We see Canada as a country with a rich tradition of beer appreciation,” said Paul Gurr, SABMiller’s managing director for Canada, in the news release. “And believe we can better serve Canadians’ needs through this transition.”




Lawsuit Says Anheuser-Busch Beers Are Even More Watered Down Than You Think (Additional Coverage)


Source: TIME

By Brad Tuttle

Feb. 27, 2013


Have Budweiser drinkers been getting less buzzed? Former employees at Anheuser-Busch breweries say that they routinely watered down popular beers such as Budweiser, Michelob, Natural Ice, and Bud Light Platinum. Class-action lawsuits have been filed in three states accusing the brewery giant of selling beers that overstated the amount of alcohol they contained.


This week, lawyers filed suits in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and California on the behalf of drinkers who may have purchased beers that packed less punch, alcohol-wise, than their labels led consumers to believe. Each of the three suits is seeking damages of more than $5 million, and more lawsuits are expected to be filed against Anheuser-Busch, specifically in Ohio and Colorado. Lawyers say that the watering down of beers can result in beers that contain 3% to 8% less alcohol than their labels indicate.


“There are no impediments – economic, practical or legal – to (A-B) accurately labeling its products to reflect their true alcohol content,” the lead suit, filed in California, claims, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Nevertheless, (A-B) uniformly misrepresents and overstates that content.”


The claims are apparently based on statements from former brewery workers around the country, who say that the breweries routinely added extra water just before bottling to 11 beers, including Bud Ice, Bud Light Platinum, Bud Light Lime, Hurricane High Gravity Lager, Michelob, Michelob Ultra, regular old Budweiser, and even the new brew, Black Crown. What’s especially noteworthy is that Black Crown and Bud Light Platinum are new products that have been marketed specifically as richer, higher-alcohol beers-6% by volume, compared to 4.2% for Bud Light.


“AB’s customers are overcharged for watered-down beer and AB is unjustly enriched by the additional volume it can sell,” lawyers stated in a Philadelphia court, per Bloomberg News.


In San Francisco, lead attorney Josh Boxer, said, “Consumers are paying good money for beer that they think has a certain quality and characteristic that it doesn’t have.”


The suit alleges that Anheuser-Busch increasingly watered down its beers after the company merged with InBev in 2008, creating the world’s largest beer company. “Following the merger, AB vigorously accelerated the deceptive practices,” the suit states, “sacrificing the quality products once produced by Anheuser-Busch in order to reduce costs.”


Budweiser is still the third most popular beer in the U.S., but sales have been slumping for more than two decades, due at least partly to the rise of richer, tastier, higher-alcohol craft beers. Things have gotten to the point that the 2011 decrease of “just” 4.4% in Bud sales was considered a success for the company.


While the statements of former brewery employees make Anheuser-Busch look bad, the plaintiffs haven’t had the beverages independently tested for alcohol content to see how watered-down the beers truly were-if at all. Anheuser-Busch will surely point out this lack of proof when the time comes. The company also released a strongly worded statement, from vice president of brewing and supply Peter Kraemer:


“The claims against Anheuser-Busch are completely false, and these lawsuits are groundless . Our beers are in full compliance with all alcohol labeling laws.”




AB InBev: lacking fizz


Brewer reliant on higher prices to push up profits


Source: FT / Lex                                                                             

Feb 27th


How do you ruin results day for a brewer? Accuse them of watering down the beer. Disgruntled drinkers have launched a US lawsuit accusing AB InBev of watering down brands such as Budweiser. AB InBev denies the claims, but at least they might have distracted attention from the cautious outlook for the start of 2013, with carnival timing hitting sales in Brazil and hard up consumers drinking less in the US.


The longer term perspective is only slightly brighter. AB InBev is one of the most efficient brewers in the business, with a profit margin at the level of earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of 39 per cent. Of the other big global brewers, only SABMiller comes close with a margin of 32 per cent. But margin improvement has slowed after healthy increases in 2010 and 2011, leaving AB InBev relying on revenues to push profits. With volumes flat, that growth has to come from higher prices. AB InBev has done well here. It sold beer at an average price of 87 cents per litre in 2009 but by 2012 that had increased to 99 cents per litre. However, even with innovations such as Budweiser Black Crown and bow tie shaped cans, price increases cannot go on forever.


That conundrum is one reason why AB InBev is so keen to get its hands on Mexico’s Grupo Modelo. As well as the extra sales, there is the chance to improve Modelo’s 29 per cent ebitda margin and invent a crate full of new, more highly priced versions of Corona.


AB InBev’s enterprise value is just under 11 times forecast ebitda. Historically, that has been a lousy rating at which to buy the shares – the last time they hit that level, they lost a fifth of their value in the next 10 months. True, it is a discount to SABMiller on 14 times, and the company is healthy enough to keep the acquisitions coming. But buying here requires faith in AB InBev’s ability to deliver organic growth.




AB InBev warns on US and Brazil beer sales


Source: FT

By James Fontanella-Khan in Brussels

Feb 27th


Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest brewer by sales, reported strong profits in the last three months of 2012 but warned that revenues in the first part of this year could be hit by lower beer volumes in key markets such as the US and Brazil.


The Belgian group behind the Budweiser, Stella Artois and Becks labels said on Wednesday that pressure on US consumers’ disposable income, an earlier than usual carnival festival in Brazil this year as well as tough weather in both countries would hit volumes.


The brewer, which has offered to offload assets and licences in an attempt to win regulatory approval for its $20bn takeover of Mexico’s Grupo Modelo, said that it was still awaiting regulatory approval for the deal. The US Department of Justice had initially blocked the takeover on antitrust grounds.


Slower business activity in the US and Brazil, where AB InBev makes more than 60 per cent of its revenues, is expected to be partially offset by a return to solid volume growth in China in 2013 after a disastrous last quarter of 2012 in Asia’s largest economy. Volumes in China dropped 12 per cent at the end of last year because of extreme weather conditions.


The company said: “While we expect 2013 to be another year of challenge and uncertainty in the global economic environment, we will continue to work for the long-term growth of our business and shareholder value.”


The conservative outlook is in sharp contrast to the group’s robust performance in the quarter ending on December 31.


The Leuven-based brewer said that in the fourth quarter of 2012, earnings before interest, tax, amortisation and depreciation rose 10 per cent to $4.39bn compared with the same period a year earlier.


The strong quarterly result was also reflected in the Brussels-listed group’s 2012 annual results, in which ebitda rose 8.5 per cent to $12.77bn compared with $12.61bn in 2012, driven by strong sales in the US and Brazil, which offset a drastic fall in sales in central Europe.


Carlos Brito, AB InBev chief executive, said: “2012 was an important turning point after three years of very soft markets.”


Although AB InBev’s market in the US remained unchanged, its beer-only revenues per hectolitre grew 4.9 per cent in 2012 thanks to the successful introduction into the market of Bud Light Platinum and Bud Light Lime-A-Rita, a margarita drink.


In Brazil, beer revenue per hectolitre grew 9.6 per cent in 2012, including 10.9 per cent in the last quarter, as Budweiser became the largest consumed international beer in the country despite an increase in prices. Meanwhile, beer volumes in China in 2012 rose 1.9 per cent.


The only markets to suffer sharp falls were western and central Europe, where beer sales per hectolitre fell 4.2 per cent and 11.3 per cent respectively, as demand was affected by a tough competitive environment.


Anthony Bucalo, an analyst at Santander, said: “The company closed out 2012 well in its key North American and Latin America North markets and we think this will be taken as a positive.”


AB InBev shares rose 0.9 per cent to ?70.40 by lunchtime in Brussels, reversing an earlier 1.5 per cent drop.



You can expect to hear a lot more about this company in the years ahead


ThaiBev 2012 profit up 137%


Source: Today

Feb 28th


Thai Beverage booked a 137-per cent on-year jump in 2012 net profit to 28.5 billion baht, or about US$955 million.


In a statement on the Singapore Exchange, ThaiBev attributed the growth to an increase in contributions from the spirits, non-alcoholic beverages and F&N operating results.


The increase in those businesses helped to offset a 12.7 per cent wider loss from its beer business and a 38 per cent fall in net profit from food.


Total sales for the 12 months to 31 December 2012 rose 21.8 per cent to 132 billion baht, with revenue gains recorded by all divisions.


ThaiBev’s international business reported sales growth of 28 per cent with better performances in all geographic areas.


Asia, excluding China, saw the sharpest growth in revenue of 78 per cent, driven by Chang Beer sales in the ASEAN market.




Competition panel clears USL-Diageo deal: sources


Source: Hindu Business Line

Bindu D. Menon

Feb. 27th


In a breather for liquor baron Vijay Mallya, the Competition Commission of India is understood to have given its approval to the Rs 11,167-crore United Spirits-Diageo Plc deal.


Official and lawyer sources confirmed that the deal, which needed the fair trade regulator’s approval, has been cleared on Wednesday.


The Commission did not comment on the development.


The country’s largest spirits company USL is part of Mallya’s UB Group, whose aviation venture — Kingfisher Airlines – is in a financial mess. The conclusion of the deal could provide a life-line to the now grounded Kingfisher Airlines, which owes Rs 7,000 crore to a consortium of 17 banks.


“The Commission went through the clarification submitted by the parties and has given its formal approval and an order on the same will be issued shortly,” sources told Business Line.


As part of the deal, British liquor major Diageo would acquire 27.4 per cent stake for Rs 5,725.4 crore through a combination of share purchase from existing promoters and preferential allotment of shares.


In addition, it had offered to acquire an additional 26 per cent stake for Rs 5,441.07 crore through an open offer for public shareholders. The Commission had earlier asked USL-Diageo to rework the ambiguous parts and make the deal more “definitive” in nature.


Besides this, the fair trade regulator had also asked the companies to provide key information including prices and shares of the company’s products and those of its rivals


The anti-monopoly watchdog had also said that it was not comfortable with the deal terms that provided for the existing promoters of United Spirits Ltd giving a preferential treatment to Diageo, if it fails to get the required number of shares from public shareholders through an open offer. USL controls over half of India’s 250 million cases liquor market and owns brands such as McDowell’s No.1 and Bagpiper.


The CCI had sought additional details to ensure that the deal does not create monopoly in the market.


The two companies had entered into a deal in November last.


Earlier, capital markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India, on January 31, approved Diageo’s open offer for acquiring 26 per cent stake in USL.


The offer is part of the overall deal.




Monster Beverage 4th-Quarter Profit Up 5.3%, Revenue Short of Expectations


Source: Dow Jones

By Nathalie Tadena

Feb 27th


Monster Beverage Corp.’s (MNST) fourth-quarter earnings rose 5.3% as the energy-drink maker’s revenue continued to improve, though sales growth fell short of analyst expectations.


Shares sank 7.6% to $45.95 after-hours Wednesday. The stock is down 6.1% since the start of the year.


“While the growth of the energy drink market in the United States has softened from previous quarters, the Monster Energy brand continues to grow in excess of market growth,” said Chief Executive Rodney Sacks.


Monster, which has built a strong brand in the U.S. and is expanding aggressively in international markets, had enjoyed sales growth of over 20% for six quarters, before reporting 14% revenue growth in the third quarter. Revenue growth in the latest period, however, was slightly better than revenue growth in the third quarter.


Shares in the company have been volatile for months amid rising regulatory and investor scrutiny of energy drinks, which are growing more quickly than traditional carbonated soft drinks and promise consumers an energy lift through caffeine and other ingredients such as taurine and ginseng.


Monster faces continued scrutiny over the health impact of its highly caffeinated drinks. In October, the Food and Drug Administration said it is investigating reports that five people since 2009 may have died after consuming Monster’s energy beverages. The agency has cautioned that there was no evidence linking the deaths to the beverage, and Monster has defended the safety of its drinks. Monster recently said it would change the labeling for its energy drinks to begin listing the amount of caffeine in the drinks.


Mr. Sacks reiterated Wednesday that the company’s energy drinks are safe “based on both the company’s and the industry’s long successful track record and the scientific evidence supporting the safety of Monster Energy’s ingredients.”


For the latest period, Monster reported a profit of $68 million, or 39 cents a share, up from $64.5 million, or 35 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 15% to $471.5 million.


Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected per-share earnings of 41 cents on revenue of $484 million.


Gross margin narrowed to 51.7% from 52.3%.




MNST: 4Q12 EPS Falls Short; 2013 Off to a Slow Start


Source: CITI

Feb 27th


Target Price Change

Estimate Change


4Q12 EPS Falls Short of Expectations – MNST reported 4Q12 EPS of $0.39 (+11% YoY), which was 4 cents below our estimate and 2 cents below consensus. Net sales increased 15% (vs. our forecast for +17%), with gross sales +14% in the U.S. and +30% outside the U.S. Gross margin fell 60 bps YoY owing to negative geographic mix and more promotional spending, although U.S. gross margins were up YoY.


2013 Seems to Be Off to a Slow Start – MNST stated that in January 2013, gross sales were up 9.5% YoY. While January 2012 was an unusually strong month (sales up 30%+), January 2013 sales also benefitted a bit from MNST’s new distributor relationship in Brazil. While this look into early trends for the quarter is interesting, we highlight in Figure 1 of this note that the 1-month data generally offered by MNST at the time of their earnings release has proven to be an inaccurate way to forecast the actual quarter’s results. What we do know for sure is that MNST faces very tough YoY comps for gross sales growth in each of 1Q13 and 2Q13 (of +27% and +29%, respectively).


Anecdotal Commentary Not So Encouraging – Two comments from mgmt on the call that concerned us were (i) that Rehab sales were down YoY in 4Q, suggesting that this big innovation has not proved to be sustainable in terms of driving incremental growth and (ii) that with the current share repo program now done, mgmt is unsure about their future share repo plans, stating “we just spent a lot of money” buying back stock. While we presume that on Friday (the date of the next Board meeting), the Board will in fact authorize a new share repo program, we take mgmt’s comments to suggest that they may not actually step in to buyback stock in the near term.


Lowering Estimates and Target Price – Given the shortfall to our estimates in 4Q and given our expectations for continued sluggish growth in the category, we lower our 2013 EPS estimate to $2.30 (+24% YoY) and our 2014 EPS estimate to $2.69 (+17% YoY). As we roll forward our valuation to 2014, given our assertion that MNST should trade at 20x our 2014 EPS estimate, we revise our target price from $60 to $54. As this represents only ~9% upside from current levels, we maintain our Neutral rating.






Source: WSWA

Feb 27th


The U.S. wine and spirits industry and its state-based regulatory system, supported by the federal government, have delivered an unmatched record of safety and effective oversight under the 21st Amendment. This structure must not be weakened as the U.S. pursues global trade deals, the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of American (WSWA) told the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) in comments filed this week.


“In the 80 years since the end of Prohibition, the U.S. beverage alcohol regulatory system has delivered an unparalleled record of consumer safety and diversity of products-produced and delivered in a well regulated and responsible manner,” WSWA President and CEO Craig Wolf said. “This structure provides a predictable stream of tax revenue to government while ensuring the highest standards for consumer protection.”


Wolf added, “The United States should tread cautiously when considering international pressure to deregulate the distribution of beverage alcohol.  Nothing should be done to erode state authority over the distribution of beverage alcohol guaranteed by the 21st Amendment.  The last thing we want to do is place the American consumer at risk for adulterated and counterfeit product-a problem that has proliferated in many other countries, as a result of their failure to adopt the type of accountable system of distribution that exists here in the United States.”


WSWA cited a recent Financial Times article which stated an estimated 75 percent of alcohol consumed in Africa is sold illicitly with similarly shocking numbers elsewhere: 69 percent in Southeast Asia, 25 percent in the European Union, and 10 percent in the United Kingdom. The U.S. record of safety is far superior, WSWA pointed out, largely because product is regulated by those closest to it, at the state level, with federal support.


Comments filed by WSWA deal with proposed global trade deals including those with Europe mentioned by President Obama during his recent State of the Union Address.  USTR has previously recognized the important distinction between alcohol and other consumer goods under the existing General Agreement on Trade in Services by excepting distribution and retail of beverage alcohol because of constitutional state prerogatives. WSWA’s comments were filed in response to Docket USTR-2013-0001.


WSWA is a national trade association representing the wholesale tier of the wine and spirits industry. With 350 member companies across all 50 states and the District of Columbia, WSWA is the voice for wholesalers in Congress, the administration, the courts, with the news media and in communities across America.




United Kingdom: Alcohol pricing flawed, say officials


David Cameron’s plans for a minimum price for alcohol will “penalise” responsible consumers without reducing problem drinking, according to the officials who would be expected to enforce the rules.


Source: Daily Telegraph

By James Kirkup

27 Feb 2013


Licensing officers and lawyers dealing with the sale of alcohol have raised more doubts about the Coalition’s plans to restrict the sale of drinks in England and Wales.


Driven by the Prime Minister, the Government has proposed a minimum legal price for a unit of alcohol sold, to be set at 45p, pushing up the cost of some drinks. Some discounts would also be banned.


Mr Cameron has suggested that his curbs on drinks sales will reduce problem drinking.


But that claim has been challenged by the Institute of Licensing, which represents licensing officers, lawyers and police officers dealing with alcohol.


In a response a Government consultation on its plans, the institute said many of its members do not believe Mr Cameron’s changes would address the problems he has identified.


“Social attitudes have enormous influence on behaviour and society at present is overly tolerant of excessive drinking,” it said. “These plans are not balanced in any way by proposals aimed at encouraging a cultural shift towards drinking lower strength or less alcohol or changing social tolerance towards binge drinking as a whole.”


It also questioned whether alcoholics and anti-social drinkers will not be affected: “Problem drinkers will source alcohol no matter what the price.”


The licensing officers’ doubts are the latest blow the minimum alcohol price scheme, which is privately opposed by several senior Conservative ministers and Government officials.


A Scottish minimum price is currently the subject of a legal challenge, and the institute suggested that the English plans be at least postponed until that case is concluded.


The officers also questioned whether ministers were genuinely open to alternative views on the policy, since the Prime Minister has already said he is “committed” to a minimum price.


The Home Office has also suggested outlawing “multibuy” discounts including promotions where customers are given a discount of they buy six or more bottles of wine.


The licensing officers cast doubts on that plan, suggesting it is impractical and unfair.


“It is difficult to see the benefit to the proposed ‘ban’ as set out” the institute said. “For every banned promotion, there is a way for the retailer to make the overall purchase cost the same.”


It added: “The proposed multi-buy promotion ban as suggested will affect sensible drinkers and penalise a significant part of the population of England and Wales.”


The Government’s prices are strongly opposed by the alcohol industry. Miles Beale of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said: “The Institute is just the latest in a long line of organisations telling the Prime Minister not to go ahead with his plan to hike up alcohol prices.


“Consumers are absolutely clear as well. They think it is unfair that responsible drinkers will have to pay more because of the actions of a minority of irresponsible drinkers.”




AdVini buys Le Clos des Paulilles in Rousillon


Source: Decanter

by Chris Mercer

Wednesday 27 February 2013

AdVini-owned Maison Cazes has acquired Le Clos des Paulilles, the largest estate in the Collioure and Banyuls appellations.


The 90 ha estate, Le Clos des Paulilles, known for its vintage Banyuls, has been up for sale since 2011 and AdVini has acquired the property from the Dauré family, who have owned it since 1975.


Lionel Lavail, president of Rivesaltes-based Maison Cazes, said that the group’s immediate plans are to replant the estate’s Grenache and to open a restaurant and shop. Financial details were not disclosed.


Collioure is a popular tourist destination on Roussillon’s Côte Vermeille, and the region’s wines have begun to gain greater recognition of late.


‘With this recent acquisition, Cazes has broadened its range of top wines from the Roussillon,’ Lavail told He said the deal was an ‘unmissable opportunity’.


Clos des Paulilles is located close to the Mediterranean in the protected geographical area of the Paulilles Bay. Cazes said that the area’s poor schist soils, dry, sunny climate, low yields and proximity to the cooling influences of the sea make it a perfect terroir for Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre.


The estate produces Collioure red, white and rosé, as well as Banyuls Rimage (vintage) and Banyuls Traditionnel.



$24.5 million deal to protect 20,000-acre Sonoma County forest




Tuesday, February 26, 2013


A national conservation group has reached an agreement to buy nearly 20,000 acres of timberland in northwestern Sonoma County, a move that derails the long-disputed, forest-to-vineyards conversion project pushed by CalPERS, the giant state workers pension fund.


The $24.5 million purchase of the so-called Preservation Ranch, to be completed by the end of May, is led by The Conservation Fund, based in Virginia. It would contribute up to $6 million toward the purchase.


Funding partners include the California Coastal Conservancy, which could contribute up to $10 million, Sonoma County’s Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District, which could add up to $4 million to the deal, and the Sonoma Land Trust.


It would be the largest conservation purchase by acreage in county history and one of the largest along the North Coast in years.


“It’s a big, big, big deal,” said Bill Keene, general manager of the county’s Open Space District. The property, located near Annapolis, spans a vast and rugged landscape of second- and third-growth redwood and Douglas fir, oak woodlands and salmon and steelhead streams.


Keene called it “a critical piece of land for us to protect.”


Public access could result from the deal, but the property would remain in private ownership and on the tax roll.


The Conservation Fund owns and manages 55,000 acres of forest in Mendocino County and would use the new property for sustainable timber production and possibly for the sale of carbon credits.


The purchase would eliminate the threat of subdivision for rural estates and commercial vineyard development. It also would put greater focus on forest health and wildlife habitat restoration, said Chris Kelly, California program director for The Conservation Fund.


After the sale, the group would own nearly 75,000 acres on the North Coast — “the largest permanently protected working forest in California,” according to Kelly.


The project pushed by CalPERS called for clearing up to 1,769 acres of the 19,652-acre property for vineyards.


It became one of the hottest land-use fights in Wine Country, sparking national media coverage and a debate about the spread of vineyards into remote North Coast forests. The general issue, and Preservation Ranch in particular, has factored in local elections and triggered county efforts to strengthen local oversight of forest conversions.


The proposal was headed for what was certain to be a bruising process of hearings and public input, including a final say by the county Board of Supervisors and possible court challenges.


The mounting cost of studies — said last year to be more than $2 million — and the risks and controversy associated with the project likely pushed CalPERS to consider other options, sources said.


CalPERS officials declined to comment Tuesday on the sale agreement.


The transaction reflects the growing role of private groups in large deals to protect local open space, especially former commercial forests. Public agencies, while partners in those deals, are increasingly unable or unwilling to buy and manage those lands on their own.


The political ripples of the purchase could bolster the cause of environmental interests, who established a majority recently on the county’s Board of Supervisors. Several environmental leaders on Tuesday greeted news of the closely guarded deal with jubilation.


“Wow,” said Bill Kortum, a former Sonoma County supervisor and veteran advocate for open space and coastal protection. “What better news is there to dance to?”


It also could improve the political prospects of county Supervisor Efren Carrillo, who represents the area and is said to be considering a bid for a seat in the state Legislature. With the sale, he will not have to vote on the controversial Preservation Ranch proposal.


While he never publicly revealed his stance, opponents suspected he favored the project, a position that could have dogged him in any regional campaign. Opponents flooded his office and those of other county representatives with more than 90,000 emails and letters on the issue in recent years.


Several conservation insiders, however, credited Carrillo with being a driving force behind the purchase agreement, which evolved out of talks between CalPERS and The Conservation Fund over the past year.


Carrillo called it a “unique opportunity” that would protect one of the largest single landholdings left in the county and link to other public and private conservation properties in the area.


“This really builds on the work we’ve seen on the North Coast already,” Carrillo said. Asked how it could play into his rumored interest in the Legislature, he said he was still undecided about that “option.”


The Preservation Ranch property includes ancestral grounds used by Pomo tribes, several of which voiced strong opposition to forest clearance for vineyards.


The property previously was held in small ranches and then used by commercial timber outfits before being considered for wine grapes more than a decade ago.


CalPERS, the $253 billion state workers pension fund, has controlled Preservation Ranch for nearly a decade. The ownership was through a Napa-based vineyard development firm that bought the property in 2004 for $28.5 million.


The pension fund severed its ties with the Napa firm in late 2011 but retained control of the land and the project.


Pension officials said in February 2012 that they intended to continue with the land conversion. Along with vineyards, the project would have set aside 15,000 acres for timber operations, dedicated 2,700 acres for a private wildlife preserve and donated 220 acres for a public park expansion.


But work on a draft environmental study slowed last year, with no new funds being allocated by CalPERS to the county for the project, said David Schiltgen, the county planner overseeing Preservation Ranch.


Talks with The Conservation Fund started early last year and led to a purchase agreement in October. The deal was covered under a confidentiality agreement that expired Feb. 18. It kept the deal a little-known secret among a relatively small group of open space officials.


Money from the county’s taxpayer-funded Open Space District would purchase a conservation easement that eliminates development rights on the property. It takes in 160 parcels, about 60 of which would have been open to future development under the CalPERS proposal.


Keene, the Open Space District manager, said an appraisal valued the property at about $26 million, including development potential of about $20 million and timber worth about $6 million. The county contribution, which needs the Board of Supervisors’ approval, of up to $4 million is a “pretty darn good deal,” Keene said.


The Conservation Fund and the Coastal Conservancy are expected to provide up to $16 million while Sonoma Land Trust, the nonprofit group that brokered the most expensive conservation purchase in county history — the $36 million, 5,600-acre Jenner Headlands deal — is set to help raise the remaining funds needed.


“We just think it’s a fantastic outcome,” said Ralph Benson, Sonoma Land Trust’s executive director.


Advocates who have raised concerns about North Coast forest conversions voiced hope Tuesday.


“We’re optimistic for the recovery of the watershed and its signature species” — endangered salmon and threatened steelhead trout — said Chris Poehlmann, president of Friends of the Gualala River.


He said the deal would give the landscape time to heal.


“If you have a broken clock, you don’t throw away any of the parts,” he said. “This would have been a very large part.”




The Winners of the 2012 Beverage Testing Institute Packaging Competitions


Source: PR Newswire

Feb 27th


In December 2012 the Beverage Testing Institute (BTI) put down their tasting glasses and searched for the best and most innovative wine, beer, and spirits packaging designs from among hundreds of entries from around the world. Trade judges were not just looking for pretty packages, but for designs that excelled in terms of the key categories of creativity, graphic design, style, and functional innovation, as well as practicality and ergonomics that are critical to brand success on-and-off-premise.


Here are the Best-of-Category packaging winners:




Best Bottle: AnestasiA Vodka Sensational Spirit

Best Bottle Runner-up: La Hechicera Aged Rum

Best Gift Box: Bacardi “Mix With the Best” Gift Box

Best Gift Box Runner-up: Grey Goose Holiday VAP Gift Box

Best Case: AnestasiA Vodka Sensational Spirit Case




Best Bottle: Meier’s Wine Cellars “Sinful” Sangria

Best Bottle Runner-up: The Vibrant Vine 2011 “The Red of Whites” Chardonnay

Best Embossed Label: Pomar Junction 2010 Reserve Late Harvest Viognier

Best Paper Label: Indaba 2012 Chenin Blanc

Best Case: Austerity 2011 Proprietary Red Wine Case




Best Bottle: 2012 Samuel Adams Utopias

Best Bottle Runner-up: Rogue Ales Voodoo Doughnut Chocolate, PB & Banana Ale

Best Can: Rogue Ales Yellow Snow IPA

Best Paper Label: Jester King Craft Brewery Funk Metal

Best Case: Frankenmuth Brewery Limited Edition 150 Anniversary Lager

Best Carrier: Sierra Blanca Brewing Company Alien Amber Ale

Best Gift Box: Cervecería Kross “Kross 2,4º” Beer

Best Gift Box Runner-up: Urban Chestnut Brewing Company Variety Pack

NEW CATEGORIES – Best Tap Handle: NOLA Brewing Company Mechahopzilla

Best Tap Handle Runner-up: Sierra Blanca Brewing Company Alien Amber Ale


For a complete list of medal winners and images:


About BTI: The Beverage Testing Institute was founded in 1981 as America’s premier source for wine, beer, and spirits reviews for consumers and a boutique, specialty marketing service for the drinks trade. For more information about BTI’s competitions and review services, please visit




Target’s slight earnings increase impacted by Canadian costs


Source: RT

By Gail Hoffer

February 27, 2013


Start-up expenses and other costs related to its Canadian entry reduced Target’s earnings per share for the fourth quarter by approximately 18 cents.


The company reported fourth quarter net earnings of $961 million, or $1.47 per share, compared with $1.45 per share for the same period last year. Adjusted earnings per share, a measure the company believes is useful in providing period-to-period comparisons of the results of its U.S. operations, were $1.65 in fourth quarter 2012, up 10.1% from $1.49 in 2011.


As previously reported, sales at U.S. stores increased 6.8% to $22.4 billion in fourth quarter 2012 from $20.9 billion last year, reflecting a 0.4% increase in comparable-store sales combined with the contribution from new stores and one additional accounting week.


“We’re pleased with Target’s fourth quarter performance, particularly in the face of a highly promotional retail environment and continued consumer uncertainty,” said Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president, and chief executive officer of Target Corporation. “Outstanding discipline and execution by our team allowed us to achieve our full-year financial and strategic goals in 2012. We believe these results position us well to deliver on significant plans in 2013, including completion of the largest store opening program in our company’s history with 124 stores in Canada and additional Target and CityTarget locations in the U.S., investing in new processes and technology that will improve our guests’ multichannel experience and closing the sale of our credit card receivables.”


For fiscal 2013, Target said it expects adjusted EPS of $4.85 to $5.05 and GAAP EPS of $4.70 to $4.90.


In first quarter 2013, the Target said it expects adjusted EPS of $1.10 to $1.20 and GAAP EPS of $1.22 to $1.32.




Casual restaurants not adequately leveraging the strength in craft beers


Source: GuestMetrics

Feb 27th


According to GuestMetrics, based on its POS database of over $8 billion in sales, casual restaurants appear not to be leveraging the strength of craft beers as well as fine dining restaurants and bars.


“On pretty much every dimension, casual restaurants are not doing as effective a job as fine dining restaurants or bars in leveraging the growth in craft beers,” said Bill Pecoriello, CEO of GuestMetrics LLC. “Based on our data, craft beers accounted for 20% of beer sales in casual restaurants, versus the 22% in bars and 28% in fine dining restaurants.  Additionally, the average price being charged by casual restaurants for craft beers is only $5.09, compared to $5.53 in bars and $6.16 in fine dining restaurants.  This is a function of differences in brand mix, promotional levels and as well as pricing architecture across the sub-channels. While it may not be feasible for casual restaurants to charge the same amount as fine dining, there should be room for closing the price gap relative to what bars are realizing.”  


“In further analyzing the beer category within the different on-premise segments, while craft beers achieved a 7% growth in casual restaurants in 2012 relative to the prior year, this lagged behind the 11% growth in bars and 13% growth in fine dining restaurants,” said Peter Reidhead, VP of Strategy and Insights at GuestMetrics.  “While casual restaurants obviously need to have a balanced offering in the beers they carry, we believe there could be a positive halo effect on overall beer sales from dialing up their focus on craft beers.”


“In addition to having a lower share of beer sales and slower growth from craft beers, casual restaurants appear to be leaving additional money on the table by not keeping pace with the price increases in craft beer,” said Brian Barrett, President of GuestMetrics. “While the average price of craft beers in fine dining restaurants and bars increased more than 3% in 2012 relative to the prior year, craft beer pricing in casual restaurants only increased 2%.  Given the tight economics being experienced by casual restaurants right now, optimizing the brand mix, discount levels and pricing architecture within the beer category are key to improving revenue trends.”       


About GuestMetrics LLC

GuestMetrics, LLC is revolutionizing how the hospitality industry operates.  Despite the dawn of the Digital Age having begun more than three decades ago, the hospitality industry essentially functions the same way it did centuries before.  GuestMetrics has cracked the code by collecting $8 billion dollars in sales from over 250 million checks from tens of thousands of restaurants, and turning billions of raw transactions into intelligible data that is fundamentally transforming the business operations of everyone from the independently-owned bar/restaurant on the corner, to multi-national chains, to the food & beverage companies that supply them.  Please visit for more information and to arrange for a free demonstration.




Pennsylvania: Liquor Control Committee will make changes to privatization plan, chairman promises


Source: PA Independent

By Eric Boehm

Feb 26th


The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board had what some hope is its last budget hearing in the state House on Tuesday morning.


FIRST STEP: State Rep. John Taylor, R-Philadelphia, holds the key to the future of the liquor privatization plan.


House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, announced last week that he will be introducing a plan to allow wine and beer to be sold in grocery stores and, but before you start popping those corks over the news that the state-run liquor monopoly is headed for the trash heap, remember the bill has to actually make it through the General Assembly.


And even though both the state House and state Senate are controlled by Republicans, it’s no slam dunk.


The first major hurdle after the bill gets introduced on March 4 will be the House Liquor Control Committee.  Recent attempts to privatize the liquor stores have stumbled there, in part because the committee’s chairman, state Rep. John Taylor, the lone Republican member of the General Assembly from Philadelphia, has not been on the same page with Turzai and Corbett.


Following the budget hearing Tuesday, Taylor said he “might be a cosponsor of (Turzai’s) bill, but you can bet we’re going to change parts of it.”


Specifically, Taylor said he wants to examine the timetable, including which parts of the multi-level privatization plan would go into effect immediately and which might have to wait a few years.  He said his goal is to avoid the chaotic process some other states have fallen victim to when they did away with similar liquor monopolies.


“It seems like we’re going to agree on most of it, but the speed of what we’re doing is really a big part of it,” Taylor said.


But Pennsylvanians have been dealing with the PLCB for some 80 years since the end of Prohibition, so what’s another couple of years in the grand scheme of things, right?


For what it’s worth, Turzai’s office confirms they are on the same track with Taylor and open to some changes to the bill.


And lawmakers aiming to kill the PLCB and privatize the state liquor stores this year were surely heartened to hear new PLCB Chairman Joseph Brion say he supports privatization from a philosophical point of view – though he made it clear that as long as the state is in the business of selling liquor, he believes it should do so in the most efficient and effective way possible.




Washington: Tacoma’s third Alcohol Impact Area will take effect March 11


Source: News Tribune

LEWIS KAMB; Staff writer

Feb. 27, 2013


Beginning March 11, the City of Tacoma will ask 37 businesses in the North and West Ends to voluntarily stop selling Hurricane High Gravity, Night Train Express and 43 other cheap, high-alcohol drinks.


If those businesses don’t comply within six months, the city can then seek to make the voluntary ban mandatory.


By an 8-1 vote Tuesday, Tacoma’s City Council effectively imposed the latest targeted ban on alcohol sales by establishing the new “West End Alcohol Impact Area” – the city’s third zone with a special state designation that aims to curtail public drunkenness and its problems.


“Alcohol Impact Areas . have been one of the most successful programs in our city,” Councilwoman Lauren Walker said before the body adopted the measure.


Councilman Joe Lonergan cast the lone vote against the measure, saying that creating the new zone will only serve to push chronic public inebriates into South Tacoma – the district he represents.


“I remain very concerned about that,” Lonergan said. “… I believe AIAs work; I know we’ve got the evidence for that. But I don’t think I can support this tonight.”


The newly created West End zone becomes the city’s largest AIA geographically. The area roughly stretches from Cedar and Alder streets and Commencement Bay on the east to The Narrows on the west; and from 19th and Center streets at the south to Point Defiance at the north.


With the measure’s adoption, the city will begin asking and aiding businesses within the zone to stop selling fortified wines, malt liquor and other specified products.


The measure also tasks Tacoma police to study the ban’s impacts and report back to the council by Aug. 31. If data show the program isn’t working or businesses aren’t complying with the voluntary ban, the city could then seek a mandatory designation from the state’s liquor control board.


Studies have shown the city’s two other AIAs – the Urban Core AIA covering parts of the Hilltop and downtown, and the Lincoln District AIA in parts of the East Side and South End – have drastically decreased alcohol-related emergency calls, detoxification admissions and public drinking reports.


After those AIAs effectively pushed public street drunks into the West End, neighborhood, school and other groups asked the city to designate a new West End AIA.


Several council members echoed Lonergan’s concerns that the new AIA likely will displace drunks into South Tacoma and other parts of the city not covered by bans on alcohol sales. Councilman Marty Campbell also noted the newest zone is sprawling and far less targeted than Tacoma’s other two AIAs.


Nonetheless, the council adopted the measure – in part “to respect the work that citizens have done to date” to impose the new ban, Councilwoman Victoria Woodards said.


Michael Transue, executive director of the Washington Beer and Wine Distributors Association, asked the council to forego the vote while his group worked with retail businesses, the city and citizens on an alternative plan to voluntarily prohibit stores from selling three or fewer banned products to a customer between 6 a.m. and 4 p.m.


While the state prohibits citywide AIAs, the distributors’ proposal could be enacted across Tacoma and into other jurisdictions as a more regional solution that’s more effective than an outright ban in a defined AIA that “penalizes legitimate retailers and consumers,” Transue said.


But council supporters of the West End AIA said its approval won’t preclude the city from working with distributors on a better plan.


“Coming up with a comprehensive solution can still happen, even if the ban passes tonight,” Mayor Marilyn Strickland said.




California: Crackdown on alcohol continues in El Cajon


Source: UT San Diego

By Karen Pearlman

Feb. 27, 2013


Dozens of mom-and-pop liquor store owners from around the city showed up in force at El Cajon’s City Council meeting Tuesday to hear the council weigh in on a problem the city has been trying for years to fix: The sale of alcohol to chronic inebriates and those under 21.


The council also expressed concern over the sales of smaller – and cheaper – bottles of single-serve hard liquor and of the sales of “fortified” beer and wine.


Because council members concluded that a community-based task force that started in 2011 has not done enough to help curtail those issues, they have been seeking other ways to break the cycle.


The council dug deeper Tuesday by unanimously agreeing to craft what is known as a deemed-approved ordinance.


Such an ordinance, as it relates to alcohol sales, is used in nearly two dozen cities in California. It would make existing alcohol outlets accountable to a set of performance standards.


A draft will be written over the next few weeks by city staff, then presented to the El Cajon Planning Commission, where a public hearing will be held within the next three months, according to City Attorney Morgan Foley. The issue will then go back to the City Council sometime in the summer when another public hearing will be held.


“All we’re asking them to do is not sell to the drunks and not sell to the kids, and I am going to do whatever it takes to stop them from doing it,” Kendrick said of the nearly 80 markets around the city. “If it takes coming down hard on them with an ordinance, that’s what we’ll do. If they do it voluntarily, that’s great… but it didn’t work with tobacco.”


The 10-member task force that was formed in 2011 included members of the Neighborhood Market Association, Communities Against Substance Abuse, business owners, private citizens, Kendrick and former Councilwoman Jillian Hanson-Cox. The group fell by the wayside after Hanson-Cox resigned from the council nearly a year ago. She is serving a prison sentence in Arizona after pleading guilty to mail fraud and filing false tax returns.


CASA Executive Director Dana Stevens gave an audiovisual presentation that pointed out some of the liquor stores that she said were contributing to issues associated with alcohol sales such as petty theft, panhandling, public urination and “the stench of human waste,” she noted.


“For 26 years we’ve been trying to prevent problems associated with alcohol and drugs,” Stevens said, also noting that El Cajon has been placed in a moratorium category by the state’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control because the city has an overabundance of off-site sale liquor licenses.


Mark Paul Arabo, president and CEO of the Neighborhood Market Association, which represents the great majority of the liquor stores in El Cajon, said the group would take a hard-line stance and do what it takes to bring stores in line with that vision.


“The NMA will be meeting with the El Cajon Police Department, city staff and city attorney to hopefully come up with objective, measured goals we all can focus on,” Arabo said. “I hope we all could work together with the city of El Cajon for a win-win for all. In addition, we will … help them with community feedback. Our main objective will be public safety, bettering communities we do business in, and creating a solid partnership with the NMA and the city.”


Arabo said that the NMA is holding a forum at 6 p.m. Monday at the Royal Palace, 1340 Broadway, that he said will cover “good business practices” and put the pressure on the “one or two bad apples.”


“We all want same thing, we want El Cajon to be a beautiful city, and we will work together to fix the problem,” Arabo said.


The deemed-approved ordinance will state that if an outlet does not comply with the standards and poses a nuisance, it may be reported to the city and the Police Department.


Typically, an outlet would have to comply with rules that control disturbing the peace, illegal drug activity, public drunkenness, public consumption of alcoholic beverages, harassment of passers-by, gambling, prostitution, sale of stolen goods, public urination, theft, assault, battery, vandalism, littering, loitering, graffiti, illegal parking, loud noises, traffic violations, curfew violations, lewd conduct or police detentions and arrests.


Outlets that fail to comply after being asked to abate the nuisance would be required to apply for a conditional use permit and can then have conditions placed on their city business permit. The city ultimately can revoke the permit if the business fails to comply.


“We want to make El Cajon the most resistant to alcohol abusers,” Kendrick said. “And the kids they sell alcohol to… those are the next generation of homeless. The cycle has to stop.”




Connecticut: Liquor Store Owners Ready For Battle Over Minimum Pricing Plan


Operators of small package stores are decrying Connecticut’s proposal to eliminate a law that now protects small liquor stores from their larger competitors.


Source: Cheshire Patch

By Eileen McNamara

Feb 27th


Aproposal to eliminate the state’s minimum pricing law for retail alcohol sales is getting serious opposition from liquor store owners.


The business owners say if the law is repealed, which Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has proposed, many of them would go out of business, crushed by larger competitors who can buy booze in bulk and set much lower prices.


Testifying before a legislative panel earlier this week, Carroll Hughes, executive director of the Connecticut Package Stores Association, and himself a package store owner, told a legislative committee that the minimum pricing law was established to help protect small business owners against larger competitors who might otherwise sell alcohol at rock-bottom prices, the Connecticut Post reports.


“It’s not a public service, where you sell it at cost,” the newspaper quotes Hughes, who testified in Hartford on Tuesday during a public hearing on the plan. He was one of dozens of package store owners who attended the hearing before the legislature’s Planning and Development Committee.


Malloy has said the law should abolished because it goes against free market principles and hurts consumers by propping up higher retail prices of alcohol.


“We would not allow the car industry to set a minimum price on cars,” Malloy told reporters Tuesday at the state Capitol, according to the Hartford Courant.


“We wouldn’t allow other industries to conspire to set prices. Somehow and some way, we decided it was OK to charge people in Connecticut more for liquor than they are charged in the surrounding states and to defend that system. And for the life of me, I don’t understand it.”


Malloy took on the liquor stores association last year when he proposed, and won passage of, legislation to abolish a ban on Sunday alcohol sales, an old law that he said also hurt Connecticut consumers because neighboring states allowed their package stores to open on Sundays.

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