US alcohol industry groups have warned members not to take part in retailer Kroger's new shelf management programme after guidance from the Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).

The Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS) and Wine Institute said the programme, which asks for payments to the wholesaler in charge of Kroger's alcohol shelf management plan, is "ill-advised" and could violate federal law. "We believe that participating in the Kroger programme... may put a supplier's basic permit to do business in the US at risk," DISCUS and the Wine Institute said on Friday.

Kroger last year said it was to implement a so-called "single source" system at its US stores that would put wholesaler Southern Wine & Spirits in charge of organising its alcohol shelf space. Kroger said the move would improve "shelf presentation and compliance" and asked clients to fund the costs of the programme.

In response to DISCUS and the Wine Institute questioning whether the Kroger programme is in line with federal rules on alcohol distribution, the TTB highlighted its "tied-house" rules, which cover suspected inducements from retailers to sell particular alcohol products. It said the TTB may suspend the permit of a supplier that pays a retailer or a third-party selected by a retailer.

DISCUS and the Wine Institute said the TTB's response, as well as a ruling in Ohio in December that the Kroger programme would violate the state's tied house law and rules, "strongly suggests that participating in the Kroger programme would put participating suppliers at risk of violating their federal permits required to conduct business".

The TTB did not mention Kroger in its response.

A report in the Wall Street Journal this month said that Kroger previously relied on "category captains" such as Anheuser-Busch and Diageo to oversee how wine, spirits and beer were organised in stores. Southern told the WSJ that the payments to it for the revised plan would be voluntary to cover the estimated US$12m in annual costs.