ALBANY, N.Y. (FNS) -- Food retailers have formed a coalition with others in the New York state wine industry in a renewed effort to permit sales of wine in supermarkets, telling state lawmakers, "It's time for wine."
The proposal could provide the state with $130 million in additional revenue in the first year, coming from sales taxes, excise taxes, license fees and a one-time franchise fee, according to Jim Rogers, president and chief executive officer of the New York State Food Industry Alliance.
"This is not a novel idea," Rogers said. "Thirty-five other states allow for it."
Neil Golub, president and CEO of Price Chopper, Schenectady, N.Y., said the proposal would increase competition among stores, and give the customer choice and better pricing.
"New York state has made it so inconvenient for consumers [to buy wine] that it is really hurting our struggling wine industry," Golub said. "It makes no sense. The law is out of date, and needs to be revisited and modernized."
Price Chopper, which has 68 stores in New York, currently sells wine in stores in Vermont, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
"Making wine available in food stores will not jeopardize society's effort to moderate the consumption of spirits," Golub said. "Family wine and liquor stores will continue to serve their neighborhood niche with variety, service and assortment. Today's time-stressed consumer is clearly expressing a desire for one-stop shopping where they can fulfill all of their food needs in one place."
Golub estimated Price Chopper would be able to sell hundreds of wine brands, given the opportunity.
Rich Savner, director of public affairs and government relations, Pathmark Stores, Carteret, N.J., said he would like the opportunity to offer customers wine in his stores.
"Hopefully, customers are coming into your store, doing the immense shopping, and then supplementing it with the wine, or vice versa," he said.
Savner agreed that allowing wine to be sold in supermarkets would create competition and help consumers."We're not afraid of competition. It makes us better operators, and it forces us to always examine our operation. We don't think that would harm the liquor industry to do the same."
If Pathmark were allowed to sell wine, Savner said it would probably sell about 20 to 30 different varieties, ranging in price from $7 to $25.
Bob Ryan, owner of Ryan's Big M, Brockport, N.Y., said there is no question it will be good for business, and "there's no question that it's unfair for the liquor stores to have a monopoly on wine sales."
New York state's wine and grape industry is No. 3 in the nation, and provides more than $85 million in state and local revenues.