Unified Grocers’ new Springfield logo and packaging has been named a winner in the 2015 American Package Design Awards sponsored by Graphic Design USA magazine.
Unified teamed up with San Francisco-based Murray Brand Communications to redesign and refresh the Springfield packaging, make it relevant to today’s consumers and to attract new shoppers to the brand. After conducting extensive consumer research, the Murray Brand team designed a new brandmark and packaging system for the Springfield portfolio of more than 800 SKUs.
The new packaging was designed to support the brand’s core essence of neighborly, trusted quality and to provide shoppers a consistent, eye-catching look throughout the store. It also includes “Facts Up Front” icons developed by the Food Marketing Institute and Grocery Manufacturers Association to help consumers easily recognize food attributes and benefits such as fat free, low sodium and low cholesterol. The Springfield brand has been in existence since 1947.
“We have a terrific partnership with Murray Brand,” said JoAnn Murdock, Executive Director, Marketing, Unified Grocers. “We’ve been impressed by their extensive, research-based approach and outstanding creativity and design execution throughout the entire Springfield brand refresh process. They truly understand marketing and successfully used shopper insights to achieve these award-winning results.”
“Winning this prestigious design competition, which is judged by branding, design and packaging experts, validates that the new Springfield brand and packaging is beautiful work,” said R.J. Murray, Principal, Murray Brand Communications, Inc. “It reflects our strong collaborative effort with Unified Grocers and their packaging production partner, Western Family, and allowed us to develop fresh and exciting designs which resonate with shoppers and ultimately drive sales.”
For more than five decades, Graphic Design USA has hosted design competitions that spotlight areas of excellence and opportunity for creative professionals. The competition celebrates “well-designed graphics and the power of design to advance the brand promise and forge an emotional connection with the buyer.” About 2,000 entries were submitted to this year’s competition.
By Lorrie Baumann
Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage opened its 92nd store in Tucson, Arizona, in January. Another new store opened in Wichita, Kansas, on February 24. Altogether, 18 Natural Grocers stores are planned to open in fiscal year 2015.
The current crop of openings reflects a combination of a growing food and nutrition movement in the United States and an ambitious goal of growing the store base at a 20 percent compound rate over each of the five years, after taking the company public in July 2012, said Kemper Isely, Natural Grocers’ Co-President.
Twenty-one stores are scheduled to open in the 2016 fiscal year, with 24 slated for the following year. “We planned on expanding our geographic footprint west of the Mississippi. Any state west of the Mississippi would be a possible target,” Isely said.
The founding principles established by Margaret and Philip Isely when they established Vitamin Cottage, the precursor of Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, in Colorado in 1955, are that the stores are committed to providing nutrition education, to quality, to everyday affordable pricing, to their communities and to their employees. This is according to Patty Moore, one of the chain’s Regional Nutrition Coaches. Vitamin Cottage eventually evolved into Natural Grocers, the name by which consumers generally know the brand. Though the company is now publicly owned, the Isely family is still involved in its day-to-day management and maintains a controlling interest in its ownership.
Natural Grocers’ basic mission to change lives by offering free nutrition education and healthful products that support good nutrition has not changed. What has changed over that time is a growing mainstream acceptance of what used to be called “health food” and recent growing concern about American childhood obesity rates as well as an epidemic of diabetes and other nutrition-related illnesses.
In keeping with its principles, all produce sold in the chain is 100 percent USDA Certified Organic, and the company prefers to buy local products when possible. “We have a commitment to that, which is pretty unique for a chain of our size,” Isely said. “We also support organic producers over local producers. If there aren’t organic sources in an area, we won’t sell conventionally-produced produce in our stores.”
Meats in the stores come from humanely treated animals that were raised without antibiotics, except when needed to treat an actual illness, and without growth promoters or feed containing animal byproducts. Dairy products come from animals raised on pasture rather than in barns. “The cows or goats or sheep that produce the milk have to be on pasture for a minimum of 120 days,” Isely said. “They have to get the majority of their nutrition from forage, so that we’re not stocking products that come from barn-raised animals.”
Providing those products across a rapidly growing geographic area has presented no particular distribution-chain challenges, because the chain is partnered with UNFI, which, so far, has been able to supply every new store, Isely said. “Most of the product is either manufacturer- or distributor-direct to stores, so there haven’t been challenges,” he said. “That isn’t a big issue.”
Before a new product can go onto the shelves at Natural Grocers, it is reviewed by the corporate purchasing staff, which requires third-party documentation that the product meets the company’s quality standards. Approval can take up to three months, and Natural Grocers will not sell any product that contains artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, preservatives or harmful trans fats.
The company supported GMO-labeling ballot issues in Oregon and Colorado. “We support GMO labeling for products. We don’t support lawsuits if people inadvertently don’t mention GMOs that they don’t know are in their products. We think that consumers have a right to know if there are GMO-containing foods in the products they purchase,” Isely said. The company adopted a no-disposable-bag policy in 2009 and estimates that since that time, the policy has kept 100 million bags out of landfills.
Every store in the chain has a position available for a credentialed nutrition coach, whose services are free to the community, and newer stores offer regular free cooking and nutrition education classes in demonstration kitchens. The free classes offered in the store cover topics such as maintaining blood sugar stability, heart health, bone health, food quality and gluten-free living, Moore said.
A few of the older stores, such as the Vitamin Cottage founded in 1955, do not have demonstration kitchens, so they do not offer cooking classes, but all offer advice and coaching to guide consumers about nutrition choices, whether they are following special diets such as gluten-free, Paleo, vegetarian/vegan, low-glycemic or if they heard something on television on which they want to follow up. “What we like to do is educate people about the various ways there are to eat. Eating whole foods and eating foods that are natural to your diet is a good way to eat. We don’t try to say that everyone should eat Paleo or vegetarian or high-carb. Everyone doesn’t want to eat the same way,” Isely said. “Our people will talk to them about whatever sort of diet they want to have, and it isn’t necessarily one type of diet they should have. Lean meat and vegetables seems to be preferable for good health, but if someone wants to eat differently from that, that’s fine, and we’ll talk to them about that also.”
Natural Grocers currently employs more than 2,000 people, with 85 percent of them full-time. Full-time employees get health insurance and paid personal time off, while a 401(k) plan and employee discount is available to all employees. For every hour an employee works in the store, he or she also gets 75 cents in “Vitamin Bucks,” which are a store credit in addition to the employee discount.
“We’re foodies. We do carry supplements, but food is first,” Moore said. “People are taking back control of their food. They want to be food citizens.”
Founded in 1890, Star Kay White, Inc., is celebrating its 125th anniversary on Valentine’s Day, 2015. Owned and operated by the Katzenstein family for five generations, their primary focus has always been making the top-quality ice cream flavor ingredients that America has grown to love, such as vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, peppermint stick, marshmallow, graham cracker, and an old favorite, rum raisin.
Making ice cream is a unique, complicated, and expensive endeavor, and so is the manufacture of the flavors used in the process. Making caramels, fudge, fruit sauces, “variegates” (swirls), bases, extracts, and candies is an equally specialized and exacting process. High quality vanilla extract demands procurement of the world’s finest vanilla beans, with the actual process of making the extract taking over a month. The secrets of Star Kay White’s Gold Star Vanilla Extract have literally been handed down, father to son, for five generations.
Star Extract Works began making and selling ice cream flavors at the southern tip of Manhattan in the same location where the World Trade Center North Tower stood. Lower Manhattan has always been a congested area, and needing more space, Star Kay White followed the New York Yankees and moved to the Bronx in 1928. Eventually, the confines of the city proper caused the company to move again to suburban Rockland County in 1984. As of 2015, Star Kay White maintains four buildings on a 10-acre campus, employing more than 100 people and manufacturing over 40 million pounds of product per year.
Americans have always commemorated happy times with their favorite ice cream. That sentiment is exactly why some mom and pop shops and ice cream companies now owned by multinational corporations have consistently purchased their ice cream flavors from Star Kay White – some continuously for over a hundred years. The best names in ice cream still come to Star Kay White for the craft touch, the family feel, and the extra hustle for which Star Kay White is renowned. American business has always been very competitive and many of Star Kay White’s rivals have come and gone. Few companies can match Star Kay White’s heritage or the expertise that comes with honing a skill for a very long time.
So the next time you find yourself in front of a freezer looking at a pint of ice cream, or waiting in line for a hand-dipped cone at the beach, know that for 125 years, there is this undeniable truth about ice cream: it is American, it is classic, and it is made from old-fashioned hard work. And while you won’t find this name on the package, there’s a very good chance that you are enjoying Star Kay White’s flavors on your taste buds and bringing that smile to your face!
Pacific Northwest grocery chain Haggen has begun the process of acquiring 146 stores as part of the divestment process brought about by the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) review of the Albertsons LLC and Safeway merger. The FTC approved the divestiture on Tuesday, January 27, 2015, and the merger of Albertsons and Safeway Inc. was completed on Friday, January 30, 2015. Haggen takes ownership of the first Albertsons store in Monroe, Washington, at 12:01 a.m. on February 12.
With this acquisition, Haggen will expand from 18 stores with 16 pharmacies to 164 stores with 106 pharmacies; from 2,000 employees to more than 10,000 employees; and from a Pacific Northwest company with locations in Oregon and Washington to a major regional grocery chain with locations in Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and Arizona.
“This momentous acquisition is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rapidly expand the Haggen brand across the West Coast,” said John Caple, Chairman of the Haggen board of directors and partner at Comvest Partners, a private investment firm that owns the majority share of Haggen. “Now that the deal has closed, our team is focused on seamlessly converting these 146 stores to the Haggen brand over the next five months.”
The Haggen team, led by John Clougher, CEO, Haggen Pacific Northwest, and Bill Shaner, CEO, Haggen Pacific Southwest, has outlined its plans to convert the stores. Under the settlement, the divestitures to Haggen must be completed within 120 days from the purchase of the first store.
Haggen will convert the stores moving from north to south, with a few exceptions. The first conversion begins on Thursday at a former Albertsons in Monroe, Washington. Soon after, another 18 stores in Washington will be converted during February and March, with the final seven Washington stores scheduled in June. The 83 stores in California will be converted from March to May. The 20 Oregon stores will transfer to the Haggen brand throughout the months of March, April and May. The Nevada and Arizona stores will be the last to convert in the late spring. Each week, between one and 12 stores will be converted.
As the stores are transformed into the Haggen brand from the Albertsons, Safeway, Pavilions or Vons brands, each store’s employees will be invited to become Haggen employees. “Retaining the existing store employees was an essential part of the acquisition, and we hope they all accept our invitation to join the Haggen family. These are great teams and these new employees will be an incredible asset to our growing company. Plus, these familiar faces will help ease the brand transition for long-time customers,” said Bill Shaner.
The amount of time it will take for a conversion will vary store by store. Some stores can be converted within two days after the change of ownership, while others will take longer. Both interior and exterior signage will change at all locations. John Clougher said, “We’re excited about the changes we’re making to enhance these stores, and we’re confident customers will like the new look, the new offerings, and their new full service grocery destination.”
Shaner noted how the store offering will change. “Haggen has built its 81-year-old business on providing excellent, locally sourced, fresh produce and high quality meats and seafood. That focus will definitely be reflected in the new stores,” he said.
As a full-line grocery store, Haggen will offer a core assortment that meets the needs of regular shoppers. Plus, the stores will supplement that selection with products that are locally relevant. “Haggen is still small enough to be very nimble and responsive to each store’s customers. What you find in a Bellingham store will differ from what you’ll find in a store in San Diego. Being locally focused is a core value of Haggen,” said Shaner.
The acquisition of the 146 stores by Haggen has been well supported by grocery industry partners. “We are incredibly grateful for key partners that have helped to make this acquisition a reality, including Unified Grocers, SUPERVALU and Charlie’s Produce,” noted Clougher. Unified Grocers will be the primary supplier in the Pacific Southwest and a secondary supplier in the Pacific Northwest. SUPERVALU will be the primary supplier in the Pacific Northwest. Charlie’s Produce will be the primary and preferred supplier for produce for all Haggen stores. Haggen plans to announce many regional and local distributors in the coming months.
Additionally, Starbucks and Haggen have agreed to continue operating the 78 Starbucks stores located in Haggen’s acquired properties, with remodeling planned for these existing cafés. Haggen will also be adding cafés to other locations. Clougher said, “We are proud to be continuing and expanding our partnership with Starbucks – another great Washington company committed to building stronger communities.”
Clougher added, “With the help of both our long-standing and new partners and employees, we are excited to offer our locally sourced produce and groceries, genuine service, and homemade quality to customers throughout Washington and Oregon and now in California, Nevada and Arizona.”
Grund® America is launching a new home rug line made of organic cotton at the 2015 International Housewares Show in Chicago (North Hall, Booth #8344) from March 7-10. “Organic cotton is a safe, socially responsible and environmentally friendly alternative to conventional cotton. It
provides the consumer with the same benefits of conventional cotton, soft, durable, affordable-but without the negative effects to the environment and to human exposure to harmful chemicals,” states Michael Twer, Vice President/General Manager. “We take tremendous pride in being socially responsible for our community and for the products we produce. Our Organic Cotton Home Rugs are certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), which is the worldwide leading textile processing standard lab. The Grund Organic Cotton Home Rugs can be used in many rooms in the home, including the bathroom, kitchen, laundry and utility rooms.”
Based on the Textile Exchange research, the tangible benefits of organic cotton production include significant reduction in global warming, soil erosion and soil acidification, water use and energy consumption. In addition, the study’s most significant findings when comparing organic cotton to conventional cotton included the following:
• 46 percent reduced global warming potential
• 70 percent less acidification
• 26 percent reduction in soil erosion
• 91 percent reduction in ground (blue) water consumption
• 62 percent reduction in primary energy demand
The release of this study validates the turning point for the organic cotton production as a viable and environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional cotton. Lastly, the Grund Organic Cotton Home Rugs are grown and produced without exposure to toxic chemicals and pesticides. Launching in April just in time for Earth Day, the Grund Organic Cotton Home Rug collection will be available in multiple colors, sizes, and three designs.
The 9th Annual California’s Artisan Cheese Festival has announced this year’s roster of experts leading seminars and workshops on Saturday, March 21, 2015. The weekend-long festival takes place March 20-22 and brings together artisan cheesemakers, chefs, brewers, sommeliers, winemakers and passionate guests for three days of touring, tasting and learning about artisan cheese.
Bringing attendees face-to-face with the experts who work with and create some of America’s best artisan cheeses, the Saturday seminars and workshops tend to sell out early every year. Some of the experts that will be leading seminars this March are:
Sacha Laurin, the assistant cheesemaker at Winters Cheese Company, is leading a unique cheesemaking seminar entitled “Feta and Friends.” The origins of feta go back as far as the late Roman Empire and sometimes the recipe can seem similarly Byzantine. Fortunately, Laurin has adapted the feta-making process for the home cheesemaker, and in this class attendees will make their own batch, then dress up their cheese with olive oil, tapenades, fresh and dried herbs, and other goodies.
Louella Hill, also known as the San Francisco Milk Maid, is leading a cheesemaking seminar entitled “Mozzarella Making,”as well as a hands-on educational seminar entitled “Three Milks, One Recipe, Many Tastes.”
For those home cheesemakers who are ready to move on from mozzarella and ricotta, cheesemaker and educator Stephanie Soleil is leading a seminar entitled “Cheesemaking 201: Pressed Cheese – Romano.” This intermediate cheesemaking class teaches home cheesemakers how to press cheese and properly age cheese in their own refrigerators, and every attendee will go home with their own round to continue aging for weeks or months.
All seminars, except the Cowgirls’ afternoon seminar, will take place at the festival’s host hotel, Sheraton Sonoma County–Petaluma (745 Baywood Drive, Petaluma, CA 94954). Seminar times are 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 21. The ticket price for the seminars and workshops includes a catered lunch by Petaluma Market from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. Tickets are $95 per person for the cheesemaking seminars and $65-$75 per person for all other seminars. Several participating authors will also be signing and selling their books between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. in the main lobby of the Sheraton Sonoma County. Tickets for all events can be purchased at www.artisancheesefestival.com.
Those interested can also follow updates by “liking” the Artisan Cheese Festival on Facebookand following the event on Twitter. All events are priced separately and the Sheraton Sonoma County – Petaluma is offering special discounted rates on rooms for festival-goers.
Generous sponsors of the Artisan Cheese Festival include All American Printing, American AgCredit, Beehive Cheese Company, California Milk Advisory Board, Central Coast Creamery, Clover Stornetta Farms, Cowgirl Creamery, Culture magazine, Cypress Grove Chevre, Donald & Maureen Green Foundation, Edible Marin and Wine Country, Edible East Bay, Exchange Bank, Ellipses Public Relations, Fiscalini Cheese Co., John Boos, Lagunitas Brewing Company, Laura Chenel Chevre, Marin French Cheese Company, Nicasio Valley Cheese Company, Nugget Markets Inc., Oliver’s Markets, Orland Farmstead Creamery, Pennyroyal Farm & Creamery, Petaluma Creamery, Petaluma Market, Petaluma Post, Pisenti & Brinker LLP, Pt. Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company, Redwood Hill Farm, Relish Culinary Adventures, Redwood Hill Farm Rustic Bakery, Sierra Nevada Cheese Company, Sheraton Sonoma County, Simple & Crisp, The Cheese School of San Francisco, Valley Ford Cheese Company, and Willapa Hills Cheese.
West Michigan-based Denali Flavors®, developer of Original Moose Tracks® ice cream, has partnered with Georgia Nut Company to introduce a line of ready-to-eat snack mixes to be sold in grocery and convenience stores beginning this spring. The introduction marks the first time the legendary ice cream flavor will appear in the snack food aisle.
Three “trail mix” flavors will be offered, two of them based on Denali’s top-selling decadent ice cream flavors, Original Moose Tracks and Extreme Chocolate Moose Tracks. The third flavor, Caramel Moose Tracks, has been developed specifically for the snack mix launch. Available in 1.5-ounce single-serve “impulse” packages, 3.0-ounce “sharing” size and 6.0-ounce “value size” bags, the snack mixes have a suggested retail price of $.99, $1.79 and $2.99 respectively. Custom sizes and package types are also available to the trade.
Original Moose Tracks Snack Mix features vanilla-coated waffle cone pieces with peanut butter cups, peanuts and Moose Tracks fudge-coated peanuts. Extreme Chocolate Moose Tracks Snack Mix contains Moose Tracks fudge-coated waffle cone pieces, Moose Tracks fudge-filled cups, peanuts and Moose Tracks fudge-coated peanuts. Caramel Moose Tracks Snack Mix contains caramel-coated waffle cone pieces, caramel cups, peanuts and Moose Tracks fudge-coated peanuts.
All three of the mixes are reported to be positively delicious.
“Our passionate ice cream fans continue to ask us for new ways to enjoy the Moose Tracks flavor experience,” said Neal Glaeser, President of Denali Flavors. “We felt the time is right for a grab-and-go snack mix that mirrors the ice cream experience our fans love, and our famous salty-sweet Moose Tracks fudge works particularly well in snack food form.”
The new snack mixes advance Denali’s growth of its Moose Tracks flavor outside of the ice cream category. Last summer, the company introduced three novelty ice cream bar products and an ice cream sandwich based on its iconic flavor. In addition, Denali has established a partnership to offer Original Moose Tracks Cookies to the ready-to-eat cookies aisle.
“Georgia Nut has been making quality confections and snacks since 1945,” said Kurt Thorsen, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Georgia Nut Company and 25-year food ingredients veteran. “We’ve applied 70 years of candy and nut ingredients experience and covered them in Moose Tracks fudge, so it should surprise no one that these are some of the best tasting snack mixes ever created.”
The Original Moose Tracks ice cream flavor was introduced in the mid-80’s by husband-and-wife entrepreneurs Wally and June Blume. It has since become one of the top-selling decadent ice cream flavors in the industry.
Harris Teeter and Balducci’s have added imported Italian Foods Corporation’s pastas to their lineup of gourmet products.
Harris Teeter now is carrying two of Italian Foods’ shelf stable stuffed pastas, La Piana® Mezzaluna with Basil Pesto filling and La Piana Ravioli with Squash in one-pound boxes, said Francesca Lapiana-Krause, General Manager. Harris Teeter also has added artisan, bronze die-cut La Piana Pasta di Campofilone Sage Fettuccine egg pasta and La Piana Tomato & Olive Pasta Sauce. The sale is through Haddon House of Medford, New Jersey.
Balducci’s has added two of Italian Foods’ long cut artisan egg pastas, La Piana tagliatelle and pappardelle, Lapiana-Krause said. The sale is being handled through Haddon House.
La Piana stuffed pastas are packaged in one-pound boxes with a suggested retail price of $6.19 to $7.19 and are available in six flavors. Three flavors of the stuffed pastas, which are shelf stable for 15 months, also are available in 8-ounce boxes with a suggested retail price of $4.49 to $5.19. Suggested retail prices for the artisan egg pastas are $8.99 and the La Piana pasta sauces are $8.99 More information is available online at http://www.ItalianFoods.com, by calling 1.888.516.7262 and by connecting at https://www.Facebook.com/LaPianaItalianFoods.
Suja Juice Co., which makes cold-pressured juice, has closed a financing round in excess of $20 million dollars. Suja’s newest investors are Evolution Media Partners (Evolution), a joint venture with TPG Growth, Participant Media, and Evolution Media Capital (EMC), the latter of which is a merchant bank formed in 2008 in partnership with Creative Artists Agency (CAA). Additional investors in this newest round of funding also include Leonardo DiCaprio, Jared Leto and Sofia Vergara.
“As someone constantly on the go, I have come to count on Suja not only to help me maintain my health and energy but to provide a great tasting fun alternative,” says Leto. “I am passionate about discovering brands that I not only actually use and enjoy, but also holistically believe in, and Suja is a great exemplifier of this search.”
Suja, which was just named by Forbes as the number two “Most Promising Company” in America, climbing up a spot from its #3 ranking in 2014, is coming off of a great year of top-line growth, brand building and capacity expansion. Suja continues to lead the tremendous growth of the high pressure processed organic juice category and is now seeing the same success in the traditional grocery channel that it saw last year in the natural foods channel. Funds from this investment round will be used to support the expansion of Suja’s manufacturing facility and its capacity as the company anticipates doubling revenues in 2015.
“Since Suja’s launch in May 2012, the brand has been blessed with an authentic and loyal fan following,” says James Brennan, Suja Co-founder. “We are lucky enough that some of these fans happened to be Hollywood’s most respected celebrities and wanted to do more than just enjoy the juice but actually be part of the Suja Juice movement. By bringing in the likes of CAA and this prominent group of individuals, it serves as great brand validation and reinforces that we really have created something special at Suja.”
The American beer industry welcomed bipartisan legislation introduced today to comprehensively reform the federal beer tax imposed on brewers and beer importers. The bill would remove barriers to growth in the industry, encouraging capital and workforce investment through simple, fair and broad reform.
Introduced by Reps. Steve Womack, R-Ark., and Ron Kind, D-Wis., the Fair Brewers Excise and Economic Relief Act of 2015 (Fair BEER Act) creates a graduated federal excise tax structure while maintaining a level playing field.
Under the Fair BEER Act, all brewers and beer importers would pay a rising scale of federal excise tax:
By imposing this “laddered” approach to all brewers and beer importers, the legislation reforms the overall tax structure to provide the greatest relief to the very smallest brewers. More than 90 percent of permitted brewers produce 7,143 barrels or less and would see their excise tax rates reduced from $7/barrel to zero. The 7,143 barrel threshold was designed to meet the definition of a “small brewer” set forth by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), the agency which regulates the alcohol industry.
By applying comprehensive reform across brewers, the legislation removes barriers to growth. Under current law, small brewers are defined as those which produce up to 2 million barrels, and are taxed at $7/barrel on the first 60,000 barrels and $18 on every barrel thereafter. Current law imposes an $18/barrel federal beer tax on all suppliers of more than 2 million barrels annually.
“Our tax policies shouldn’t discourage the growth and continued success of an industry that supports jobs for more than two million Americans, and it shouldn’t pick the winners and losers in the market,” said Congressman Womack. “This comprehensive reform bill supports brewpubs, microbrewers, national craft brewers, major brewers, and importers alike and encourages their entrepreneurial spirit, which is exactly the spirit we need to get America’s economic engine going again.”
“The beer industry has shaped our heritage and history in Wisconsin, and plays a crucial role in our state’s economy,” said Congressman Kind. “Here in Wisconsin and across the nation, brewers are employing our workers and creating new jobs, and this pro-growth, bipartisan bill will help them continue to expand and produce high-quality products.”
“This bill is important for reforming a hidden tax that most beer drinkers don’t even know they pay, and because it removes barriers to industry growth,” said Jim McGreevy, President and CEO of the Beer Institute, the nation’s leading trade association representing brewers, beer importers and industry suppliers. “The Fair BEER Act deserves support, because it offers fair reform of the federal beer tax, but it reaches that reform without completely changing the industry structure.”
Other original Fair BEER Act co-sponsors include Mark Amodei, R-Nev.; Mike Bost, R-Ill.; Ken Buck, R-Colo.; Tony Cardenas, D-Calif.;Doug Collins, R-Ga.; Rick Crawford, R-Ark.; Danny Davis, D-Ill.; Sam Graves, R-Mo.; Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz.; Alcee Hastings, D-Fla.;David Jolly, R-Fla.; Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo.; Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo.; Tom Marino, R-Pa.; Gwen Moore, D-Wis.; Grace Napolitano, D-Calif.; Jason Smith, R-Mo.; Todd Young, R-Ind.; Peter Welch, D-Vt.; Bruce Westerman, R-Ark.; and Ryan Zinke, R-Mont.
By offering tax reform across the category, from pennies on the barrel for major suppliers to an $18/barrel tax break for the smallest brewers, the Fair BEER Act offers Members of Congress an opportunity to support all brewers, from the smallest brewpubs to the biggest job creators. The Fair BEER Act also serves to fix a significant policy issue around trade by protecting small brewers from potentially losing their tax relief.
Companion legislation is expected to be introduced in the U.S. Senate shortly.
History of the Federal Excise Tax on Beer
Existing federal excise taxes on beer are set at a rate of $18/barrel for brewers of more than 2 million barrels (62 million gallons, or the equivalent of 110 million six-packs) and all beer importers. Since the late 70s, growth in the small brewing sector has been encouraged by tax credits offered to brewers which produce less than 2 million barrels, cutting their excise tax rate to $7/barrel on the first 60,000 barrels and allowing them a far lower overall effective tax rate on all barrels up to 2 million.
Today there are more than 3,300 breweries in the United States. More than 90 percent of those brewers produce fewer than 7,143 barrels annually, meeting the definition of a small brewer set by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). Many of those small brewers are brewpubs, which are restaurants with brewing operations designed to sell locally.
While the reduced tax rate for brewers has been a success in introducing new entrants to the market, the eligibility definition of “small” at 2 million barrels unintentionally created a barrier to further growth. By removing the production cap to allow all brewers and beer importers relief, and graduating the relief in such a manner that the deepest reductions in rates are reserved for the newest entrants to the market, the Fair BEER Act reforms the beer tax without altering the industry structure, or picking winners and losers in the marketplace.