This year’s Beverage Alcohol Community Symposium (BACS) was jam packed with educational content from our speakers and insightful commentary from our attendees. We enjoyed seeing so many familiar faces in the audience this year, and were thrilled to meet many new people who make up this incredible community within our industry. We encourage all of you to join the Beverage Alcohol Community (BAC) and continue the conversations we began at BACS.
For those of you who weren’t able to join us in New York, we wanted to provide you with a brief recap. Read below to see highlights from the event, and an overview of the presentations. If you are interested in downloading this content, you can do so here!
Keynote: Passion for Possibilities
Patrick Barratt, Wholesale Product Manager, ShipCompliant
Patrick Barratt kicked off the day with his keynote presentation, Passion for Possibilities. In this presentation, Patrick discussed how technology has changed our industry, featuring a few of the latest innovations in beverage alcohol, including the Winery Passport and Brewery Passport, applications that allow wineries and breweries to connect directly with their consumers; Hooch, a members-only cocktail application; and ShipCompliant’s own LabelVision tool.
Patrick emphasized the need for collaboration within our industry, explaining that we’re all a part of the Beverage Alcohol Community (BAC), a forum that connects industry members. The BAC fosters rich discussions about pertinent topics, such as trademark disputes, hosts webinars with state regulators and industry experts, and coordinates industry events, such as this Beverage Alcohol Community Symposium (BACS). If you’re not already a member and want access to this great content, join today!
Regulator vs. Industry Attorney Face-off
Jacqueline Flug, Counsel to the Authority, New York State Liquor Authority
Nicholas Bergman, Partner, Buchman Law Firm, LLP
Jaci and Nick presented the beverage alcohol community with some valuable insight regarding how state regulators and lawyers go about analyzing controversial gray areas of liquor laws and legal disputes. Although the two are good friends, they came prepared with boxing gloves and never hesitated to jab at one another!
Lawyers and regulators work closely together and rely on each other more than one might think for resources and insight. For a symbiotic relationship to occur between lawyers and regulators, lawyers and their clients need to do their homework ahead of time and have a possible solution in mind to present to the regulator. Blatantly asking the regulator for help does not work! Jaci also warns that when you finally do approach a regulator, keep in mind that “the devil is always in the details.” Nick and Jaci also provided valuable insight on how both sides of the legal spectrum interpret and handle price posting, consumer tasting, and declaratory ruling cases.
Game of Thrones in the Regulatory World
Susan Evans, Executive Liaison for Industry and State Matters, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB)
Bill Earle, President, National Association of Beverage Importers, Inc.
Susan and Bill spoke during a session focused on federal regulations and the art of navigating international rules and policies. Susan shared strategies that the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) are undertaking to reduce federal barriers. She explained that the TTB is facilitating electronic filing to streamline application review and approval, and modernizing alcohol beverage labeling and formula programs.
Bill explained the effects of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on the beverage alcohol industry, specifically its ability to expand export trade to the Pacific Rim, and eliminate most tariffs on imports within ten years. He also discussed how the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Centers of Excellence and Expertise (CEE) have streamlined and simplified communication for importers, creating one point of contact for all 20 ports of entry, instead of a separate point of contact for each entry port.
Trends to Shape Our Industry
John Beaudette, CEO and President, MHW, Ltd.
Bart Watson, Chief Economist, Brewers Association
John and Bart spoke during the afternoon session focused on growing trends within the different segments of the beverage alcohol industry, sharing that premiumization of beverage alcohol brands (across all segments) is a popular trend throughout the industry. John focused on trends throughout the industry as a whole, explaining that our industry is poised for its greatest period of economic growth in our history, and demonstrated that spirits and wine are growing faster than beer, noting that millennials are driving this growth. Bart dove into the beer segment, explaining that while craft beer is growing rapidly and gaining market share in the beer category as a whole, the overall beer segment is losing share of the “stomach” to wine and spirits. He emphasized that locally produced brews are very important to beer buyers, particularly 21-34-year-olds.
Challenges & Bottlenecks
Sara Barraza, Compliance Quality Assurance Specialist, Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits
Alice Chung, Regulatory Compliance Manager, Campari America
Deborah Ringo, Senior Regulatory Manager, Diageo North America
Deborah, Alice, and Sara discussed various bottlenecks and solutions that they have overcome in their companies in order to bring new products to market quickly and compliantly. One bottleneck that Sara has made huge strides with is getting product registrations approved quickly and consistently in different states. It may sound simple, but Sara’s recommendation to other compliance professionals is to respectfully ask state administrators “why,” and request documentation for state requirements. This ensures the process for label approval is legal and consistent, rather than just office policy.
Alice overcame a lack of awareness around compliance requirements internally by implementing an annual compliance training program for her marketing team. Deborah shared the issue of clarity around compliance knowledge in different departments. By creating a document that everyone was required to fill out, with compliance guidelines, she was able to cut down on back and forth communication and save time! We also had some excellent discussion among the attendees about similar issues widely faced in the industry – check the BAC for follow up posts!
ShipCompliant Product Update
Patrick Barratt, Wholesale Product Manager, ShipCompliant
The symposium concluded with a brief update from Patrick on the future of the ShipCompliant product. Patrick highlighted ShipCompliant’s new provisional approvals, which aim to further decrease the time it takes to get products to market.
With provisional approvals, as soon as you have applied for your federal COLA, you can apply for a provisional state approval, which will speed up your product’s time to market. He also featured ShipCompliant’s newest innovation: label compliance checks. ShipCompliant is launching label compliance checks, which will check your label submission against standard federal application rules and certain state application rules. Label compliance checks are still in beta testing, so please reach out to Patrick if you are interested in testing this new feature!
We are already looking forward to next year’s symposium. In the meantime, join us on the BAC to share bottlenecks and challenges that you and your company face, and look for best practices that you can incorporate to make your day-to-day operations more efficient and effective.