Beer, Wine, and Spirits Distributorships
The US beer, wine, and spirits distribution industry includes about 5,000 companies with combined annual revenue of
about $100 billion. Major companies include The Charmer Sunbelt Group, Glazer's Wholesale Drug, National Wine &
Spirits, and Southern Wine & Spirits of America. The beer wholesale industry is
: the top 50 companies
account for about a third of industry revenue. The wine and spirits wholesale industry is
: the top 50
companies account for more than 70 percent of industry revenue.
Suppliers and customers of beer, wine, and spirits distributors are covered in separate profiles for Breweries, Distillers,
Wineries, and Beer, Wine, and Liquor Stores.
Demand is driven by
consumer preferences in alcohol consumption
. The profitability of
individual companies depends on effective sales operations and maintaining low operating costs. Large companies have
advantages in exclusive distribution rights in large markets. Small operations can compete effectively by distributing rare
and expensive products. The industry is capital-intensive: average annual revenue per employee is about $450,000 for
beer wholesalers and $700,000 for wine and distilled spirits wholesalers.
PRODUCTS, OPERATIONS & TECHNOLOGY
Major products are
(hard liquor). Distributors tend to specialize in either beer or wine
and spirits. About half of overall industry revenue comes from the sale of beer, 30 percent from liquor, and 20 percent
Most alcoholic beverages sold in the US move through a federally mandated
or importers must sell to
, who then sell the product to
. There are a few notable exceptions: some
states allow small
to distribute their own beer, and many states allow
to ship directly to consumers.
Thirty-two states are
that allow private industry to manage the distribution and sale of distilled spirits.
The remaining 18 are
that solely manage the wholesaling of liquor as a state-run enterprise. Many of
these control states also regulate the retail side of the spirits business, only selling alcohol in state-run stores.
The distributor industry buys from a
variety of domestic suppliers
: about 5,000 commercial wineries; 400 breweries;
1,400 microbreweries; and 80 liquor distillers. A few large producers dominate, such as Anheuser-Busch, Miller Brewing,
Molson Coors, E&J Gallo, Constellation Brands, and The Wine Group. Many large producers have acquired or allied with
international suppliers. Major
include Heineken USA, Anheuser-Busch, Miller Brewing, Molson Coors, and