3 July 2019
Proposal to Broaden U.S. Distilled Spirits and Wine Container Size Options under Consideration
The U.S. Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) announced on 28 June a proposal to deregulate certain standards for wine, malt beverages and distilled spirits. The proposal would eliminate unnecessary regulatory requirements and provide consumers with broader purchasing options.
TTB is proposing to amend the labelling regulations for distilled spirits to explicitly allow these products to be labelled with the equivalent standard U.S. measure in addition to the mandatory metric measure. Such labelling is currently allowed but that fact is not explicitly stated in the regulations. TTB is also proposing to eliminate the existing standards of fill for distilled spirits, except that the regulations would maintain a minimum standard of 50 millilitres and a maximum standard for non-bulk shipments of 3.785 litres. The minimum container size is needed to ensure sufficient space on the container for required labelling, while the maximum container size is required to maintain the distinction between bottled and bulk products. However, certain foreign distilled spirits producers have requested the ability to ship alternative-sized containers.
The wine labelling regulations state that wine may be labelled with the equivalent standard U.S. measure in addition to the mandatory metric measure. TTB is proposing to eliminate the existing standards of fill for wine, except for a minimum standard of 50 millilitres to ensure sufficient space on the container for required labelling. A wider variety of sizes for wine containers, including bottles, individual sealed glasses, cans and boxes, has been requested by exporters from a number of countries.
Malt beverages do not have standards of fill but the regulations require the display of net contents on the brand label as mandatory information. The proposal would clarify that malt beverages may be labelled with the equivalent metric measure in addition to the mandatory U.S. measure. Such labelling is currently allowed but that fact is not explicitly stated in the rules.
TTB is seeking comments by 30 August on the relative merits of these proposals for wine, distilled spirits and malt beverages. The agency is also considering developing an expedited process for adding additional size and labelling standards in the future. According to TTB, “all of these approaches would eliminate restrictions that inhibit competition and the movement of goods in domestic and international commerce.”