By Alice Brooker
March 27, 2023
Trade organisations have formed a coalition to campaign for direct-to-consumer (DTC) shipping in US state Illinois.
The American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA), American Distilling Institute (ADI) and Distilled Spirits Council of the US (Discus) have launched the ‘Ship My Spirits’ coalition, a ‘grassroots’ movement to ‘modernise’ the spirits marketplace in Illinois by allowing DTC shipping of distilled spirits.
The current legislation in Illinois states distilled spirits cannot be delivered directly to consumers.
“Wineries in Illinois and from across the United States have been able to ship directly to consumers for more than three decades,” said Nick Nagele, vice-president of the Illinois Craft Distillers Association.
“These shipments create jobs, support Illinois farmers, generate tax revenue and protect small manufacturers. There is no logical reason to prohibit distillers from doing the same thing wineries already do. The Ship My Spirits campaign is a great way to share that message with legislators.”
The Illinois Legislature is currently considering two bills sponsored by senator Celina Villanueva and state representative Kevin Olickal, which would allow distillers to ship their spirits directly to adult consumers just as wineries have done for more than three decades in the state.
“Direct shipping is a critical step to secure the future of our industry,” said Margie Lehrman, CEO of the ACSA. “Not only do we know we can do this safely and responsibly, but we have also seen how direct shipping has created an important lifeline for our community of craft producers who are currently facing so many small business challenges.”
In December 2022, 80% of regular craft spirits drinkers in the US said they would like to be able to purchase products to be delivered directly to their homes.
“Allowing direct-to-consumer shipping for spirits in Illinois will drive consumer interest which will support the growing craft distilling industry in the state,” said Erik Owens, president of ADI.
“Further, the marketplace has changed, and consumers have grown accustomed to spirits DTC shipping. The Ship My Spirits campaign provides a quick and easy way for consumers to get involved and let their voice be heard in the legislature.”
The coalition’s website, shipmyspirits.org, states the spirits industry supports more than 79,000 jobs in Illinois and has an economic impact of more than US$7.8 billion.
“Consumers want distilled spirits shipped straight from the distillery to their doorbell, and that’s the goal of the ‘Ship My Spirits’ campaign,” said Chris Swonger, president and CEO of Discus.
“Allowing distillers to ship spirits to adult consumers helps modernise the marketplace while increasing consumer choice, building small businesses and increasing tourism. It also creates an on-ramp to distribution for new spirits products. Spirits direct-to-consumer shipping supports consumers, producers, wholesalers and retailers which can make the three-tier system stronger.”
In February this year, California introduced a bill that allows spirits-based ready-to-drink (RTD) products to be sold under the same licence used for beer and wine.
The Spirits Business explored the disparity between wine and beer DTC shipping, and DTC shipping for spirits in 2021.