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MMBA | Position Paper

Position Against Allowing Grocery (General Food) Stores To Sell Wine


BACKGROUND

In Minnesota, wine intended for consumption off the licensed premises (off-sale) may only be sold by an Exclusive Liquor Store. The proposal would allow wine to be sold in grocery stores.

POSITION

MMBA is opposed to this legislation due to its negative affect on preventing drunk driving and underage alcohol sales and consumption. In addition this legislation would have a significantly detrimental economic impact on current off-sale retailers.

REASONS

    1. This legislation would significantly increase the number of off-sale establishments allowed to sell wine (alcohol) a controlled substance. This increase would put a large economic and personnel burden on regulatory bodies.
    2. These establishments would be allowed to sell all types of wine products including wine coolers, fortified wine, sweet "pop" wine, and jug wine products most strongly desired by underage individuals.
    3. The minimum age to purchase alcohol in Minnesota is 21 years old. The majority of current off-sale retailers do not allow persons under 21 to enter their facility to purchase any items, unless accompanied by an adult. Common industry practice allows individuals under 21 years of age to enter and purchase products in a grocery store including cigarettes and lottery tickets. This customer base would make it difficult to ensure consistent legal sale of beverage alcohol.
    4. The economic impact to current off-sale retailers would be devastating. Current off-sale retailers are statutorily limited to the types of items they can sell. Grocery stores are not limited and will be able to simply utilize wine as a new and significant profit center to complement their existing inventory. Current off-sale retailers will not be able to compete.
    5. This legislation opens the door for the elimination of 3.2% beer in Minnesota. (3.2 beer contains not less than one-half of one percent alcohol by volume nor more than 3.2 percent alcohol by weight).

Minnesota law allows grocery stores, gas stations, convenience stores and wherever beer is sold to sell 3.2 beer. Due to the same regulatory issues concerning regulation of alcohol and wine, "Strong" Beer (over 3.2%) can only be sold in exclusive liquor stores. If wine can be sold in grocery stores, there will be little to prevent them from eventually selling strong beer. Since beer accounts for approximately 60% of off-sale revenue, most, if not all, small and medium sized off-sale retail operations would be forced out of business and the alcohol retail distribution system in Minnesota would be dramatically altered forever.