It just became more cost effective for local restaurants to purchase branded glassware for the beverages that they sell, but does this really have the beneficial effect on small breweries that the public thinks it does? Appearing to be a win for craft beer lovers everywhere, it is debatable as to whether or not this will hurt or harm the craft beer industry.
On March 30, 2018 Governor Scott signed House Bill No. 961 which amended the language of Florida Statute § 561.42, effective October 1, 2018. Among the small changes to the wording of the statute, the real change comes in the form of distribution of free glassware. It reads in part:
“… However, a distributor that receives glassware at no charge on a no-charge invoice from a malt beverage manufacturer or importer may give such glassware to a vendor licensed to sell malt beverages for on-premises consumption…”
Florida Statute § 561.42(14)(a).
The statute goes on to set a limitation on the amount of free glassware that a vendor may receive on a per location basis in a calendar year to 10 cases. Florida Statute § 561.42(14)(a). Each case may be comprised of up to 24 pieces of glassware which must not be able to hold more than 23 ounces of liquid volume. Florida Statute § 561.42(14)(a)(2)(a-b). This means that a vendor of malt beverages is permitted to receive up to 240 23-ounce glasses per site, per year, for free.
The effect of this change means that localized craft breweries, many of whom would like to have their glassware used to serve their product at the vendors locations, can now overcome the barrier of requiring vendors to purchase their branded glassware, which many would not do because of the expense in purchasing new glassware in an industry which has such tight margins as is. Able to now give away cases of their glassware to vendors who sell their products at no cost to the vendor, will allow for further branding and advertisement opportunities. However, there appears to be one snag in the overall direction of this statute, that is the case limitation.
It appears to be a delicate line to tread. On one side, we want to increase the visibility of our local breweries, allowing them to give their products to local vendors to use in their establishments. On the other side, we want to ensure that there is a limitation on free glassware so that it does not become a tool of bribery used by wealthy international manufacturers. So, for now the 10-case limit is here to stay. Published for enforcement starting on October 1, 2018, it will doubtlessly be watched closely for abuse by the international malt beverage manufacturers who would like nothing better than to flood our local vendors with free glassware so that all patrons will enjoy any beverage purchased while staring at their companies logo.