Distilleries, Packaging Machinery and the Law
The family of packagers served by Liquid Packaging Solutions over the past few years has grown with the re-emergence of craft distillers across the United States. In the past few years, the increase in the number of distillers, now in every state across the country, can only be described as a boom. This boom has created a number of different laws from state to state as applied to distilleries and the sale of product. Among the obvious direct effect of these differing laws, they can also influence the best solution for any distiller when it comes to packaging machinery.
LIMITS ON PRODUCTION
Packaging machinery such as bottle rinsers, liquid fillers and capping or corking machines come in a variety of models. From simple tabletop machines that produce a few hundred bottles per day or week to fully automatic packaging lines that can produce thousands in a single shift. A number of states, though not all, limit the maximum production allowed by a distiller, which will obviously affect the type of packaging equipment necessary. As noted, regulations can change and likely will change in a number of ways from year to year and state to state, but fully automated, high production machinery will at times simply not be a good choice if state laws limit yearly production.
Having the ability to sell your product directly to a consumer can have a positive effect on the bottom line of a business. Unfortunately, some states simply to not allow distillers to sell direct to consumers. Instead, they must work through distributors or third parties to get the spirits to the customers. But for those lucky enough to be in states that allow direct sales, different packaging equipment may be used for short runs or special products, allowing distillers to try new twists on their products without going through a distributor.
Similarly, some states will only allow bottles to be directly distributed by the distiller. When working with a local or regional customer base, self-distribution may be a fairly simple task that can be handled by the distiller. However, as the area grows, self-distributing may take more hours and remove the focus from the main task of creating the spirits. Each distiller will ultimately make the choice of whether or not to self-distribute if the choice is available to them, and taking on the extra work may reduce the overall production of the facility. Again, production demand will affect the best packaging machinery solution for any given distiller, and the distribution process will play a part in finding that solution.
In addition, there are laws regarding both on-site and satellite tasting rooms for different states as well as rules to follow regarding charging for tasting in those states that do allow one or both rooms. As the industry continues to grow, the laws will also continue to be modified, so that those in effect now may change quickly as both legislators and distillers see how the laws work in practice. Other laws or regulations may exist from state to state that will also have an affect on the best packaging solution for an individual distiller. Knowing the current laws of your state will assist in finding the perfect packaging solution for your own distilled spirits. For more information on state legislation and a discussion on the differences from state to state, see Direct Consumer Sales by Andrew Faulkner on page 15 of Distiller magazine.
Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice, if you need assistance or advice on the laws of your own state, you should consult an attorney.