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Legal Clarification and Guidance on Less-than-case sales

March 9, 2015


On March 6, 2015, the way manufacturers and beer distributors sell malt and brewed beverages in Pennsylvania changed dramatically. Packages such as 12- packs, 15-packs and 18-packs can now legally be sold to and from beer distributors. But just not yet.

While a monumental and exciting change for our industry, this change came by means of an advisory opinion from the PLCB, which itself leaves many unanswered questions.

Based upon our reading of the advisory opinion, we believe distributors are legally allowed to sell these new packages in the following manner:

  • The intent of the manufacturer is controlling. One way to establish this intent is for manufacturers and ID’s to invoice and ship the packages to distributors as 12-packs, 15-packs and 18-packs, as applicable.

  • Distributors must sell the packages in the same “original containers” as received from the manufacturer or ID. We still cannot “break the bulk” and the PLCB has made clear that D’s and ID’s may not alter the brewery’s “original container”.

  • Distributors cannot sell existing inventory as 12-packs. There may be another way to deal with current and future inventory and we are talking to industry partners about this issue. If this changes, we will advise you immediately.

  • When appropriate packages are received, distributors can sell 12-packs, 15-packs and 18-packs to retail accounts or individual customers.

  • Distributors may sell two 12-packs for the same price as a case as long as the distributor charges the customer its regular prices for such products. For example, a D could offer one 12-pack of Coors Light for $10.00, and two 12-packs of Coors Light for $18.00, as long as those are the regular prices for those particular quantities.

 
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