Members of the State House and Senate on Wednesday asked members of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board and the Distilled Spirits Council about the shortage of certain products that prompted the council to impose a purchase limit of two bottles per day and per customer.
Representative Carl Walker Metzgar, R-Berlin, chairman of the House Alcohol Control Committee, chaired the joint session, conducted with the Senate Committee on Law and Justice.
Metzgar noted that “the one thing we can all agree on is that the pandemic has disrupted the supply chain.”
PLCB chairman Tim Holden told lawmakers that restrictions on 43 products represented less than 1% of the agency’s products.
The causes, he explained, varied by product. They ranged from a shortage of materials to make alcohol to bottling issues and even shipping issues. For example, it has been noted that distilleries such as Jack Daniels and Jim Beam struggle to source glass bottles and switch their packaging to plastic.
It’s not a passing problem, Holden said. He explained that for some, stocks can be up to 42% lower than expected demand, and that will last for some time. For some, he said, no more inventory will be received before 2022.
Much of the questioning revolved around how the decision to restrict sales was made. Responding to testimony that many licensees were only informed of the decision a day in advance, Metzgar noted that, “in the business world, this is probably a very difficult deadline to meet. .
Other questions were about how the limit would be applied. Board member Mike Negra conceded that in practice this cannot be the case. He noted that staff could recognize an individual customer who has returned multiple times, but that there is no mechanism to prevent that customer from visiting multiple liquor stores, and stated that what exists is, in fact , “a certain honor system”.
“We can’t follow people everywhere.
Another question was about how the decision was made, Negra conceded that he and board member Mary Isehour made it between them.
“It wasn’t something we would do officially,” he said.