Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) expected true journalism from Susannah Skiver Barton in an article published by the Daily Beast yesterday (Your Favorite Distilleries Want to Send You Whiskey), and was disappointed with the one-sided reporting on direct-to-consumer (DTC) shipping of alcohol. WSWA’s position and the current DTC marketplace was misrepresented and key issues with current DTC shipping of wine were failed to be mentioned. Furthermore, the vital social responsibility spirits producers need to meet should their lobbying efforts succeed with expanding interstate DTC spirits shipping, were also not addressed.
Skiver Barton opened her article by implying that the non-alcoholic “Scottish Soda” that she receives DTC is convenient and therefore, she argues, alcohol should have the same privileges. However, Skiver Barton fails to mention the obvious differences between consumer products and alcohol. Alcohol is not like every other good or product, and consumers know this.
In a 2019 national survey by the Center of Alcohol Policy that WSWA shared with Skiver Barton, along with WSWA’s extensive DTC shipping of alcohol resource page, 86% of respondents agree that alcohol is a product that needs to be regulated and 82% agree that alcohol is different than other products and should be regulated differently.
Additionally, the article failed to address major public health and safety concerns with DTC shipping of alcohol, including increased underage access, increased access to counterfeit/illicit product, liability of delivery to intoxicated parties and more.
In the article, Drizly, the leading technology platform that enables on-demand alcohol delivery from local, licensed alcohol retailers, recently acquired by Uber, was deemed a “façade for retailers.” In fact, Drizly is the largest three-tier compliant, e-commerce solution for alcohol in North America that has served the entire industry well during the pandemic. Not only were local retailers able to continue to do business, but suppliers benefited by consumers exploring new brands locally available to them with the swipe of a finger and safely receiving same-day delivery.
Furthermore, Skiver Barton’s article failed to mention that in the 2021 legislative session, every state that considered DTC spirits shipping legislation refused to enact it due to real concerns over proof that the DTC marketplace:
- Increases Underage Access
- Increases Access to Counterfeit/Illicit Product
- Loses State Tax Revenue
- Enables Bad Actors at the Expense of State Businesses
- Creates an Uneven Playing Field
Implying there is momentum in DTC spirits legislation, as stated in the Daily Beast article, is factually inaccurate and simply dishonest.
In the Daily Beast’s code of ethics, it states that the publication “is dedicated to independent journalism, pursued without fear or favor” and that published journalists should “hold themselves to high ethical standards: aiming for honesty, fairness and accuracy while avoiding conflicts of interest.” The article published today is not independent nor accurate and clearly pursues favor with the producer-suppliers Skiver Barton has served for many years.
WSWA has reached out to Skiver Barton and her editor to respectfully ask for the quote attributed to WSWA’s Michael Bilello, that was taken out of context and used conveniently to support the authors bias, be removed. WSWA has also respectfully asked the Daily Beast to publish a follow-up article that is comprehensive, balanced and responsible.