By James Atkinson

Independent bottleshops, brewers and the health lobby have voiced their objections to a South Australian plan that would allow wine to be sold in supermarkets, which has support from lobbyists for IGA, Foodland, Coles and Woolworths.

The proposal for SA supermarkets with a minimum of 400sqm floor space to be able to sell bottled wine attracted a total of 59 published submissions, most of them in opposition.

The Australian Liquor Stores Association (ALSA) questioned the need for the new class of liquor licence, given that supermarkets are already able to apply for a liquor licence under existing laws, providing the licensed premises is classed as separate.

"It is important that the liquor licensing regime is fair and equitable with all liquor licence applicants treated the same, using the same assessment criteria and taking into account the merits of each application," said ALSA CEO Terry Mott.

Staunchly resisting the proposal was the Australian Hotels Association – which launched the 'Let's Draw The Line' campaign in February – as well as many independent bottleshop operators who made their own submissions, including Wayne Anderson, manager of Glynde Hotel Cellars.

Anderson said his Adelaide bottleshop already has nine liquor stores operated by Woolworths and Coles within a five kilometre radius.

"If the proposed amendments are passed there will be potentially another 16 licences granted to supermarkets within this same radius, eight of them owned by Woolworths and Coles, the rest trading under the IGA or Foodland banner," he said.

"This is an excessive increase in licences that goes way beyond catering for the demand within the community," Anderson said.

"Wine and grapes over beer and barley"

Several health organisations wrote to oppose the plan on the basis that it may cause alcohol-related harm, while the Brewers Association objected on the basis of "product discrimination".

"It seems illogical that a South Australian Government would unfairly favour wine and grapes over beer and barley, yet they all contribute to the economy and its strong cultural heritage," said CEO Denita Wawn.

The Independent Supermarket Retailers Guild of SA, which primarily represents the independently-owned Foodland and IGA stores – which do not have an existing liquor retail footprint and therefore have the most to gain – said it was "delighted" to support the proposal. 

"Both Foodland and IGA owners have established a policy to stock and sell only branded South Australian wine in their supermarkets," said CEO Colin Shearing. 

"They will not introduce a house brand in any wine category and nor will they stock cleanskins."

Proposal gets support from the chains

Representing Coles and Woolworths, the Australian National Retailers Association (ANRA) said it was "supportive overall" of the plan, calling for the new supermarket licensing scheme to be transparent and straightforward for applicants.

"The current liquor licence application process for retailers in South Australia is cumbersome and our members have experienced extreme difficulty in obtaining new licences," ANRA said.

Woolworths provided its own submission, arguing that SA currently has just 194 retail liquor licences, the lowest density of packaged liquor licences in Australia. 

"The benefits of the proposal will be particularly evident in rural and regional areas where choice for consumers is limited and communities are underserviced by packaged liquor outlets," said Andrew Wilsmore, manager – public affairs at Woolworths Liquor Group.

Business SA CEO Nigel McBride said that if the state is serious about promoting its wine industry then wine in supermarkets is a "logical decision".

"One cannot imagine visiting Paris and not being able to find Champagne in the supermarket so likewise, Clare Valley Riesling, Barossa Shiraz or Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon should also be available in supermarkets in South Australia," he said.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *