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  • Monday, November 02, 2020 1:55 PM | Anonymous

    Brewery fined $2.6 million for forcing bars to sell ‘unreasonable’ amounts of its beers

    LANSING — A report Thursday in the BBC and other European news outlets on Dutch brewer Heineken’s efforts to force bars in the United Kingdom to exclusively sell its beers reinforces the importance of the three-tier system of alcohol distribution in Michigan and across the United States.

    “Our three-tier system for alcohol distribution ensures what Heineken did in the UK will never happen in America,” said Spencer Nevins, president of the Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association. “Michigan’s beer and wine distributors are proud to promote choice and competition by preventing large out-of-state and foreign companies from having a monopoly on the alcohol market.”

    Unlike America, many parts of Europe still allow some form of “tied-houses,” where a brewery owns hundreds of bars and can control what is served on tap.

    The bars involved in the year-long Heineken investigation wanted to break their exclusive tie with the brewer and offer other beers. Heineken’s pub arm, Star Pubs and Bars, instead doubled down, according to the report.

    “Star Pubs and Bars ‘seriously and repeatedly’ broke rules for three years,” according to the BBC. “[The investigation] found several pubs who had asked to no longer be tied to Heineken were told that 100% of the keg beer they sold had to be Heineken brands.”

    “Thanks to Michigan’s regulatory structure that prevents large multi-national alcohol suppliers from owning or controlling distributors and retailers our state is among the top 10 states in the number of breweries and wineries. Michigan is poised to keep growing through a three-tier system that promotes fairness and a level playing field,” Nevins said. “That’s why we call on the Michigan Liquor Control Commission to follow the lead of UK regulators and step up enforcement of Michigan’s regulations that prevent unscrupulous mega alcohol suppliers from unlawfully controlling and coercing distributors and retailers in order to block out competition in Michigan.”

    Nevins recently penned a column in the Detroit News outlining the importance of the three-tier system.

    “If you need evidence, look no further than the liquor section of your local grocery store. Michigan residents are greeted with a dizzying array of options of beer, wine and spirits produced right here in Michigan, across the country and around the world. For example, over 1,500 producers of beer compete on a daily basis for shelf space and tap handles in over 18,000 licensed accounts in Michigan. No other industry comes close to that level of competition,” Nevins wrote.

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  • Friday, October 09, 2020 9:04 AM | Anonymous

    Nessel files federal lawsuits against two California companies illegally shipping wine, beer to Michigan consumers

    LANSING – The Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association (MB&WWA) today applauded Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel for aggressively cracking down on illegal wine shipments coming into Michigan. On Wednesday, Nessel announced federal lawsuits against two California companies that were repeatedly shipping wine and beer illegally into the state.

    “Attorney General Nessel’s actions should send a clear message to out-of-state retailers that have been illegally shipping wine to consumers in Michigan: ‘You are breaking the law and you will get caught,’” said Spencer Nevins, MB&WWA president. “We urge the attorney general and the Michigan Liquor Control Commission to continue to pursue legal action against out-of-state retailers that have been shipping hundreds of thousands of bottles of wine into the state illegally for years.”

    The lawsuits were filed in the Eastern District of Michigan against Go to Gifts Inc. and Vintner’s Collective LLC. According to the attorney general, both companies were sent cease and desist letters but continued to ship wine and beer into Michigan illegally. Neither company is licensed to ship alcohol to consumers in Michigan.

    “These two companies were brazenly thumbing their noses at Michigan’s laws and robbing the state of much-needed tax revenue – and they aren’t the only ones,” Nevins said. “We hope these lawsuits will make out of-state-retailers that are knowingly breaking the law think twice before doing so in our state.”

    Two years ago, the MB&WWA began issuing quarterly reports — using information from the Michigan Liquor Control Commission and excise tax data from the State of Michigan — to show how much alcohol is shipped into the state.

    During two quarters of 2018, more than 1 million bottles of alcohol were shipped into Michigan in just six months and at least 300,000 of those bottles were shipped illegally by out-of-state retailers.

    During the first three quarters of 2019 more than 1.5 million bottles of alcohol were shipped into Michigan. It’s estimated 484,101 bottles of wine were illegally shipped into the state during the same period.

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  • Thursday, October 01, 2020 2:39 PM | Anonymous

    Association calls on Michigan Liquor Control Commission to further increase enforcement

    LANSING — The Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association (MB&WWA) today applauded the Michigan Legislature for including funding in the fiscal year 2020-2021 budget to continue the state’s crackdown on illegal wine being shipped into the state. The Michigan Liquor Control Commission’s (MLCC) budget includes $303,300 to combat illegal wine shipping. The MB&WWA also called on the MLCC to further increase its enforcement of state law that prohibits out-of-state retailers from shipping wine to consumers.

    “We applaud lawmakers for doing the right thing and ensuring there is funding to crack down on the bad actors who are illegally shipping wine into Michigan, which robs the state of much-needed tax revenue and hurts small retailers proud to call Michigan home,” said Spencer Nevins, president of the MB&WWA. “It’s imperative the Michigan Liquor Control Commission continue to use every tool at its disposal and look for even more effective ways to rein in the hundreds of thousands of bottles of wine that are illegally shipped into Michigan every quarter.

    Every quarter, the MB&WWA uses reports from the MLCC and excise tax data from the State of Michigan to compile data on how much alcohol is shipped into Michigan. During the first three quarters of 2019 more than 1.5 million bottles of alcohol were shipped into Michigan. It’s estimated 484,101 bottles of wine were illegally shipped into the state during the same period.

    The MB&WWA first began compiling data on illegal wine shipments flowing into Michigan in 2018. Data from two quarters of that year showed more than 1 million bottles of alcohol were shipped into Michigan in just six months and at least 300,000 of those bottles were shipped illegally by out-of-state retailers.

    “The fact these numbers are not going down is troubling, which is why we are asking the Michigan Liquor Control Commission to double-down on its enforcement,” Nevins said. “While the MLCC has focused on this area for several years, it’s clear these out-of-state retailers have no respect for Michigan’s laws, and that won’t change unless the MLCC is even more aggressive at going after these retailers and stopping the illegal shipments.”

    The MLCC is required to submit a report to the Legislature by Feb. 1, 2021 outlining how many retailers have illegally shipped wine into the state and how much they have shipped as well as the Commission’s efforts to investigate and stop illegal wine from being shipped into Michigan.

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  • Tuesday, September 22, 2020 3:05 PM | Deleted user

    Led by female executives, committee will champion women in the industry, highlight job opportunities

    LANSING — The Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association (MB&WWA) today announced the creation of a new advocacy and education committee led by female executives from family owned beer, wine and spirits distributors in Michigan. The Women’s Advocacy Committee will champion, nurture and highlight female leaders and key job opportunities in what was once a male-dominated industry.

    “The MB&WWA Women’s Advocacy Committee  wants to put an end to the stereotypes and misconceptions about the beer and wine distribution industry in Michigan and beyond,” said Kit Wanty-Lambert, executive vice president of O&W Inc. and chair of the Women’s Advocacy Committee. “Women are no longer just answering phones and doing clerical office work at Michigan's family owned beer and wine distributors, they are playing a role in sales, marketing, human resources, finance and operations. Women are making strategic business decisions and creating cultures of collaboration and inclusion that are opening doors that have been closed in the past.”

    The committee is made up of 10 female executives from distributors across the state, stretching from metro Detroit to the western Upper Peninsula and all points in between, as well as the MB&WWA’s vice president of operations and events and one of its lead female lobbyists.

    “There have never been more leadership opportunities for women in the beer and wine distribution industry,” said Brandi Tribell vice president of operations and events for the Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association and member of the MB&WWA Women’s Advocacy Committee. “I have worked for the association for nearly 15 years and have proudly witnessed strong female leaders rise through the ranks of distributors throughout the state. And we’re just getting started.”

    “When most people think of beer and wine distributors, they likely picture a man in a logoed work shirt hauling kegs and stacking cases — but that couldn’t be further from the truth,” said Marcia Hune, a lobbyist and shareholder with GCSI and member of the MB&WWA Women’s Advocacy Committee. “There are major distributors throughout the state that are led by a woman and have women overseeing critical departments, like logistics or warehouse operations, on top of handling the day-to-day loading of trucks and delivering beer and wine to retailers across Michigan.”

    The MB&WWA represents nearly 50 beer and wine distributors throughout Michigan. The association is recognized as one of the strongest business trade associations in the state and one of the alcohol beverage industry’s most progressive state trade associations.

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  • Monday, August 17, 2020 3:53 PM | Deleted user

    In total, 1.5 million bottles of alcohol were shipped into Michigan from January through September

    LANSING – Approximately one-third of every bottle of alcohol shipped into Michigan from January through March of 2019 was shipped illegally, according to data compiled by the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association (MB&WWA).

    In total, 1,535,616 bottles of alcohol were shipped into Michigan during the first three quarters of 2019. It’s estimated nearly 484,101 bottles of wine were illegally shipped into the state during the same period.

    “For years, we’ve heard anecdotal evidence that cases upon cases of wine were illegally shipped into Michigan every month, but we had no idea it was this rampant,” said Spencer Nevins, president of the Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association. “Every time an unlicensed, out-of-state retailer illegally ships alcohol into Michigan, they rob our state of much-needed tax revenue and thumb their nose at the mom and pop retailers playing by the rules and supporting our local communities.”

    In 2018, the MB&WWA began compiling data on illegal wine shipments flowing into Michigan. Data from two quarters of that year showed more than 1 million bottles of alcohol were shipped into Michigan in just six months and at least 300,000 of those bottles were shipped illegally by out-of-state retailers.

    “As we review the data each year it is becoming abundantly clear that out-of-state retailers have no regard for Michigan law and will continue breaking the rules until they’re held accountable,” Nevins said. “We encourage the Michigan Liquor Control Commission and the Michigan Attorney General’s Office  to continue investigating each and every complaint and to crack down on these bad actors.”

    The data were compiled using reports from the Michigan Liquor Control Commission and excise tax data from the state of Michigan.

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  • Thursday, August 13, 2020 3:54 PM | Deleted user

    West Side Beer president will serve second term as finance chair

    LANSING – A.J. Mathews was re-elected finance chair of the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association (MB&WWA) Board of Directors during the association’s annual meeting. The July 29 meeting was held on Zoom.

    Mathews is president of West Side Beer, a family owned beer distributor headquartered in Grand Rapids. West Side Beer serves more than 3,300 retailers in 15 counties out of its warehouses in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing and Romulus.

    “It’s an honor to be re-elected by my peers to serve as finance chair of the Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association Board of Directors,” Mathews said. “The Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association and its members are proud to play a role in the continued growth of our state’s beer and wine industries and look forward to continuing that growth for years to come.”

    Thanks to a three-tier system that promotes fairness and a level playing field, Michigan is now a Top 10 producer of beer and Top 10 producer of wine in the country and home to breweries and wineries that have received national and international acclaim.

    The MB&WWA represents nearly 50 beer and wine distributors throughout Michigan. The association is recognized as one of the strongest business trade associations in the state and one of the most progressive state trade associations in the alcohol beverage industry.


  • Thursday, August 13, 2020 3:53 PM | Deleted user

    Rave Associates president will serve second term as vice chair

    LANSING – Jim Warbritton was re-elected vice-chair of the Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association (MB&WWA) Board of Directors during the association’s annual meeting. The July 29 meeting was held on Zoom.

    Warbritton is president of Rave Associates, a family owned beer and wine distributor in Ann Arbor. The distributor services retailers throughout eight counties in southeast Michigan. Rave Associates, the first and largest distributor of Bell’s Brewery beer and the largest distributor of Michigan craft beer in the state, distributes both beer and wine from suppliers across Michigan and around the world.

    “It has been an honor to serve the Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association Board of Directors as vice-chair for the past year and helping navigate the association through the COVID-19 pandemic,” Warbritton said. “Despite the recent challenges, our members continue to help promote growth, choices and competition by working hand-in-glove with breweries and wineries big and small to help them succeed today and into the future.”

    Michigan is a Top 10 producer of beer and Top 10 producer of wine in the country thanks to a three-tier system that promotes fairness and a level playing field.

    The MB&WWA represents nearly 50 beer and wine distributors throughout Michigan. The association is recognized as one of the strongest business trade associations in the state and one of the most progressive state trade associations in the alcohol beverage industry.


  • Thursday, August 13, 2020 3:41 PM | Deleted user

    Henry A. Fox Sales president will serve second term as chair

    LANSING – Brien Fox was re-elected chair of the Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association (MB&WWA) Board of Directors during the association’s annual meeting. The July 29 meeting was held on Zoom.

    Fox is CEO of Henry A. Fox Sales, a family owned beer, wine and spirits distributor located in Grand Rapids. Henry A. Fox Sales distributes beer, cider and wine throughout West Michigan and the entire state. The distributor works with suppliers large and small from right here in Michigan, across the country and around the world.

    “This has undoubtedly been a challenging year for Michigan’s beer and wine distributors, and the entire alcohol beverage industry in our state, and I’m proud of how our association and the industry has come together to help their communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” Fox said. “Despite the current challenges, Michigan’s beer and wine distributors will continue to create jobs and give back to their communities while helping craft breweries, wineries and local retailers compete, grow and thrive on a level playing field.”

    Michigan is a leader in both beer and wine production thanks to a three-tier system that promotes fairness and a level playing field.

    The MB&WWA represents nearly 50 beer and wine distributors throughout Michigan. The association is recognized as one of the strongest business trade associations in the state and one of the alcohol beverage industry’s most progressive state trade associations.


  • Monday, July 13, 2020 2:24 PM | Deleted user

    Donation part of $100,000 pledged to groups and nonprofits across the state

    GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Henry A. Fox Sales, a statewide beer, wine and spirits distributor, today announced $15,000 in donations to three food banks in West Michigan:

    • Feeding America West Michigan
    • The StoreHouse Grand Rapids
    • Kids’ Food Basket

    Each food bank will receive $5,000.

    “Food banks here in West Michigan have seen demand grow exponentially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as parents find themselves out of work and families struggle to make ends meet,” said Brien Fox, president of Henry A. Fox Sales. “I’m hopeful these donations will help our food banks restock their pantries so they can continue providing food to families in need.”

    According to the Food Bank Council of Michigan, the state’s food insecurity rate — or the number of Michiganders who don't have reliable access to nutritious food — will be nearly 15% through 2022.

    “It is because of partnerships like Henry A. Fox Sales that Kids’ Food Basket is able to help thousands of children and their families during the COVID-19 crisis. This generous gift and the kindness of Henry A. Fox Sales make such an incredible impact, especially right now as our food costs have risen by 66% since COVID-19 began. As a charitably funded nonprofit organization, every healthy, critical meal is funded by the support of our strong West Michigan community,” said Bridget Clark Whitney, president and founding CEO, Kids’ Food Basket. “Further, as so many of our local families are struggling with the barriers of poverty, healthy food access is more important than ever, especially during this global pandemic. As this partnership shows, when things seem at their worst, we have the opportunity to be our best. On behalf of the children we serve, thank you!”

    “If you’re hungry, you only have one problem: Figuring out where your next meal is coming from and the COVID-19 pandemic has only added to this stress,” said Dr. Phil Knight, executive director of the Food Bank Council of Michigan. “I want to thank Henry A. Fox Sales for stepping up to help ensure no family or child goes hungry.”

    Last month, Henry A. Fox Sales announced $100,000 in donations to more than 20 organizations across the state helping some of Michigan’s most vulnerable residents during the global health pandemic.

    Henry A. Fox Sales is a family owned and independent beer, wine and spirits distributor serving retailers and restauranteurs throughout the state. Their team of nearly 150 sales, delivery, warehouse and front office staff take pride in being the distributor of choice and valued trade partner to their customers and suppliers.

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  • Thursday, July 09, 2020 4:34 PM | Deleted user

    Craft beer lovers can toast the resolve, success of state’s craft beer industry during Michigan Craft Beer Month

    ORION, Mich. — July is Craft Beer Month in Michigan and Powers Distributing, an independent family owned beer distributor, is proud to work with craft brewers around the corner and across the state to help grow Michigan’s flourishing craft beer industry.

    “Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on our state’s economy, it’s never been more important to support local businesses — and that includes your local craft brewery,” said Jeff Bright, Director of Marketing at Powers Distributing. “We’re proud to promote growth, choices and competition by working hand-in-glove with craft breweries big and small across Michigan to help them succeed during these difficult times.”

    Michigan’s beer distributors have deep roots in their communities and the current global health pandemic has only strengthened that bond. Over the last several months, distributors have partnered with their suppliers to deliver locally produced hand sanitizer to front line medical workers at a time when there was a global shortage and make financial donations to support hospitals, food banks and other organizations helping Michiganders through this public health crisis.

    “Retailers of all shapes and sizes, from bars and restaurants to mom-and-pop retailers, have been impacted by COVID-19,” Bright said. “This month is the perfect opportunity to support your local brewer or retailer and toast the resolve and past and future success of Michigan’s craft beer industry.”

    With more than 330 breweries dotted across the state, Michigan’s beer distributors play a vital role in helping craft brewers big and small compete, grow, and thrive on a level playing field. Distributors help breweries access retailers, expand to new markets and grow their brands – all while ensuring the freshest beer possible is on tap at bars and restaurants and on store shelves.

    Michigan’s independent, family owned beer distributors employ nearly 5,000 people and pump hundreds of millions of dollars back into the local economy. Beer is big business in Michigan and has an annual economic impact of nearly $10 billion.

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