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US: Diageo slams new alcohol law in Utah

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Supplies of flavoured malt beverages to Utah may cease, following new state laws restricting access to the drinks, Diageo and other drinks firms have said.

A new law in Utah means flavoured malt beverages (FMBs) must be classified as spirit drinks, instead of beer, and can only be sold in state-controlled alcohol stores, not grocery and convenience stores.

Many drinks distributors believe the law, which is effective from today (1 October), makes it no longer cost-effective to supply the drinks to the market, just-drinks understands.

Utah is well-known in the US for its restrictive alcohol policy, a stance largely attributed to its strong Mormon influence.

A US spokesperson for Diageo told just-drinks today that the new law was a "lose-lose for everyone".

The drinks giant said: "Thanks to the legislature, Smirnoff Ice is no longer available in Utah.

"By effectively killing this segment of the beer category, it's not only consumers and retailers who suffer, it is also the state, which will lose revenue.  In the meantime, this does absolutely nothing address the real issue of underage drinking."

In addition to new sales restrictions, the Utah authorities have ruled that all labels for FMBs must receive state clearance before products can be put on shelves. Labels must also state clearly that the product is an alcoholic drink.


Sectors: Beer & cider, Spirits

Companies: Diageo, Smirnoff

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