Cunningham bill aids breweries

A recently signed law sponsored by state Sen. Bill Cunningham (D-18th) will make it easier for small breweries, meaderies and winemakers to sell their products at local grocery and liquor stores in order to reach customers more easily.

“Local craft breweries, wineries and meaderies have become very popular, and their customers would like to be able to buy their products at local grocery stores,” said Cunningham. “Our system was not set up for small producers, which is why we need this change.”

The law allows such businesses to distribute their products to local bars, grocery stores and liquor stores directly rather than through a third party. Under current Illinois law, most companies that produce alcohol must sell their products to local grocery and liquor stores through a third-party distributor.

Tracing back to the post-prohibition era, this setup was meant to help prevent the unregulated sale of alcohol and aid in the collection of alcohol-related taxes. It is still employed by almost every state in the U.S.

While this system is not difficult to navigate for large companies, small breweries and wineries sometimes find it hard to get their products into local stores where demand is greatest. By allowing small breweries and wineries to self-distribute, Cunningham said, they can reach more local customers more easily.

Once the companies reach a specified sales threshold, they will then need to use the third-party distribution system.

“We saw bars and restaurants struggle to stay open during the pandemic, and local breweries and meaderies faced the same challenges,” Cunningham said. “Making it easier for them to sell their products in local stores will help them stay in business for years to come.”

The district that Cunningham represents includes eligible businesses such as Horse Thief Hollow Brewing Co., Open Outcry Brewing Co., and Wild Blossom Meadery.

Most provisions of the law, originally House Bill 2620, took effect immediately after being signed.

News,Region: SW Chicago,Region: South Suburbs

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October 26, 2021 at 05:34PM

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