HMRC urged to pursue US-style distribution system

An American drinks trade association has urged the UK government to consider a US-style, three-tier distribution system to counter counterfeit and adulterated alcohol.

Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America says such a system has “proven remarkably effective at protecting the public from the dangers related to an unregulated and unrestricted market”.

The three-tier system was established after Prohibition in the US with a regulated hierarchy of producers, wholesalers and retailers. Producers can only sell to wholesalers who supply retailers, who in turn are the only sector authorised to sell to the public.

In a letter to HM Revenue & Customs in the UK, WSWA chief executive Craig Wolf said: “We would encourage you to consider the implementation of just such a system in the UK, with a mandated independent wholesale tier, as the most effective solution for the varied and difficult problems your country is facing.

“The US three-tier system delivers adults the widest variety of products available anywhere in the world in a manner that controls access to of-age consumers, delivers tax revenue to government and protects public safety.”