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Beer Volume Up Near 1% for 4 Weeks Over Memorial Day in Nielsen; Pricing (Mostly) Steady

Beer volume up 0.9% in Nielsen all outlet data for 4 weeks thru Jun 7 (including Memorial Day weekend, plus the weeks just prior to and just after the holiday), while $$ sales up 3.8%. Avg prices for a case of beer up 61 cents, 2.9%, about half from mix shift, i.e. trading up. But trading up slowed a little over 1st big holiday period of 2014. Above-premium segments up 2.2 share for 4 week period. They were up almost 3 share yr-to-date thru mid-May. Meanwhile, premium and subpremium pricing increases continued up at about half the rate of overall industry pricing, or 1.5%. Interestingly, avg cider and FMB prices down slightly last 4 weeks. FMB volume growth has slowed to just 6% in Nielsen, with avg prices down 15 cents or half a percent. But cider still nearly doubling; volume up 94% latest 4 weeks, but avg prices also down 0.5%. Interestingly, cider jumped 0.7 share of $$ to fully 2 share in grocery channel and volume still up 63%.


US Dist Ct Leaves Indy C-Stores/Groceries Out in Cold, Upholding Ban on Cold Beer

Chalk another one up for states’ rights to regulate alc bevs in unique ways, even if consumer’s inconvenienced. US Dist Ct upheld Indiana law that allows only liquor stores and on-premise outlets to sell cold beer, barring c-stores and grocery stores from that practice. C-store assn claimed law violated constitutional rights to equal protection, and is “irrational.” Judge disagreed. Rather, he deemed law a “classic case of legislative line-drawing.” What’s more, cold beer ban “is rationally related to the legitimate goals of Indiana’s alcoholic beverage laws; opening this market to others without restriction is not.” What’s the state interest? “Limiting the sale of alcohol” and “curbing the sale of immediately consumable beer to minors.”

Judge focused on differences between outlets. While c-stores/groceries that sell beer can have clerks age 19 and anyone can enter stores, in liquor stores that sell cold beer clerks gotta be 21 and go thru server training, no one under 21 can enter a liquor store, alcohol sales barred on Sundays and they can’t sell much other than alc bevs. On-premise outlets have similar restrictions. Judge also pointed out that lifting cold beer ban would create lotsa new outlets selling it and “State will be challenged in terms of the enforcement of the alcohol laws.” As noted, Plaintiffs viewed distinction between themselves and liquor stores as “irrational” and at NCSLA alc bev atty Richard Blau reacted to decision by asking “is this what Indiana consumers want?” Plaintiffs also provided evidence that c-stores/grocery stores have better compliance rate with Indy laws, including sales to minors, than liquor stores. But judge pointed out, and this will ring true for anyone who follows alc bev biz, “a legislative choice is not subject to courtroom fact-finding and may be based on rational speculation unsupported by evidence or empirical data.” And state “could have rationally believed that limiting the sale of immediately consumable cold beer to package store furthers its legitimate goal of curbing underage consumption of alcohol,” he concludes.