More options for breweries and $190 million annually for the U.S. Postal Service
Whether you are a beer producer or a beer consumer, you should probably know about this. It might not sound exciting or sexy, but it’s important for a couple of reasons. The USPS Shipping Equity Act would not only make it easier for breweries to ship beer direct to consumers, but it would also provide the USPS with a much-needed, new revenue stream.
So, here’s the deal with the USPS Shipping Equity Act, which would give the USPS the same ability as private carriers to ship alcohol in states where it is legal to do so. Currently, the U.S. Postal Service cannot ship beer at all.
In recent years, beer consumers have grown more and more interested in buying beer directly from breweries and having it shipped to their homes. In part, this shift was spurred by the pandemic, but the trend was gaining momentum before the word COVID was part of our vernacular.
In a 2022, the Harris poll, on behalf of the Brewers Association (BA) and Sovos ShipCompliant, found that 75% of craft beer drinkers said they would purchase more craft beer if they were able to have it shipped directly to their home versus having to go to a retail location to purchase it.
Thirty-seven states, including Washington, do not allow breweries to ship beer to out-of-state customers. (Different subject.) Still, this proposed legislation has value for any brewery that ships beer direct to any consumers, intrastate or interstate.
The thing is, by virtue of the current laws, only private carriers can ship alcohol beverage products to consumers. FedEx, UPS, and other such private companies have the market cornered. The USPS delivers just about everything else, but not alcohol beverage products. The USPS Shipping Equity Act addresses this situation and provides the USPS the ability to engage in this kind of commerce.
Reportedly, the proposed legislation enjoys bipartisan support, but that means nothing these days. I don’t even remember what bipartisan support means. It’s nearly impossible to get 51 senators to agree that water is wet or that cookies are good. No one wants to get caught agreeing with the other side about anything. So even though the USPS Shipping Equity Act enjoys support on both sides of the aisle, it may still require some effort to get it across the finish line.
According to the Brewers Association, giving the USPS the ability to ship beverage alcohol products would enable it to compete effectively in the modern marketplace and generate an estimated $190 million annually in new revenue. The USPS is not exactly flush with cash these days; this would help.
Increased competition is a good thing. Giving breweries more options for shipping beer directly to consumers is a good thing. Would it lower the cost of shipping beer? Maybe. Probably. I don’t know. The USPS Shipping Equity Act is a good idea regardless. To my thinking, this is a win-win for the breweries we love and the postal service we need.
According to the Brewers Association, on Thursday, September 22, 110 state and federal associations sent a letter to Congress asking them to support the United States Postal Service (USPS) Shipping Equity Act. You can read the letter here.
We will keep an eye on the progress of the USPS Shipping Equity Act and if the Brewers Association issues a call to action, we’ll let you know. In the meantime, watch this space.