As an alcohol beverage compliance nerd, there’s little I enjoy more than when a state wrestles with a complex topic. This is especially true when the result of its wrestling is to simplify an industry issue. This happened recently when Connecticut announced that it would no longer require a UNIMERC Brand Code to register products in the state. Registering your products across 30+ states is daunting, especially when every state is different. For many years, breweries, wineries, and distilleries agreed that Connecticut’s UNIMERC requirement felt out-of-place and obscure.
The UNIMERC Brand Code is hosted by the Distilled Spirits Council of United States (DISCUS) and costs $40 per submission. The submission is processed pretty quickly, after which the winery, brewery, or distillery receives a number to be used for brand registration and price posting.
However, most states have done away with requiring a UNIMERC code for registration – In fact, Connecticut was one of the last to require it. Connecticut is also one of the most expensive states to register a brand, at $200 per item, good for 3 years. The added complexity and cost of obtaining the UNIMERC has been a topic of discussion since I started working in the industry 6+ years ago; It’s exciting to see some change happening.
Note, Maryland still requires a UNIMERC when registering beer, currently. If they decide to end this requirement, UNIMERC requirements will be over nationwide for product registration.
Here are a few actions you can take in the wake of this change:
- Keep an eye out for a notification from CT to your compliance manager indicating that “effective immediately” the UNIMERC is no longer required. So far the state has not updated their forms to reflect this change, but we’re actively monitoring the situation and are prepared for developments as they happen.
- Now would be a great time to let Maryland know they are the last state to require UNIMERC–although it is just for beer, they should stop requiring it. Simplifying the process of bringing new products to the American alcohol beverage market is ultimately for the greater good of the industry.
If you would like to help simplify our industry, post your ideas or write comments at bevalc.org. We love to hear from you!