Beverage Distribution/Wine Disitribution



 I am interested in importing a product into the USA that  is made from another country.

What are the alcoholic legalities of importing wine into the USA?

Are their different laws for each state?

How do I setup a distribution contract with the manufacturer from another country?

As you can see in any shop, it is legal to import alcohol into the USA.  The laws governing inter-state commerce sit at the federal, and not local level.  Further, quality standards are at the Federal level (e.g. the FDA); duties and controls are also federal.  At the state level you'll have laws concerning operating, licensing, etc.  For example, in Texas its TABC, Indiana ATC.  

There are many tasks to setting up a distribution contract; I'd recommend finding somebody to help you here.  

Typically, most manufacturers already have distribution contracts; you would actually be negotiating the terms.  Is that what you're asking?  Or are you asking how you'd go about landing such?

On the terms, they'll cover:-
- days of credit, letter of credit
- payment terms
- minimum targets
- exclusivity
- branding control
- returns
- customer satisfaction
- quality controls
- relabelling
- clearing the legal controls
- campaigns, co-op funds
- presence, types of stores/situations
- dealing with piracy
- renewal
- insurance, risk management
- discounting rules
- conversion/buy out

Trying to land a contract is not easy.  It generally requires experience in the trade and having worked some brands.  So you know what to expect: the manufacturer, if it has any skill and concern about its branding will investigate you if they consider you serious.  This is their "due diligence".  They'll look into:-
- your experience - are you already working with similar brands; what sorts of outlets
- your reputation - do you pay on time, accurately; do you suffer from labor issues; are you respected in the local market
- your back office systems - do you have processes in place to handle customer orders, manage sales reps, handle returns, identify opportunities in the market, manage campaigns
- your key contacts - what is your network for placing the product
- goto market strategy - how do you sell (and get paid)?  Do you work through reps, 3rd party
- capital - money that you can put up to assure the manufacturer
- references
- reach/network - what outlets do you already have

Given your question, sounds like you're starting up.

Do you have a particular product?  Is it already available in your area?  

Are you already distributing products?  You mentioned "wine", but even this part of alcohol distribution has different go-to-market strategies (premium vs plonk) - and the manufacturers have to be approached differently.

You can reach me on skype if you wish to chat further (eric.hofer).

Beverage Distribution

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Eric Hofer


Over 27 years experience, with 17 in international FMCG in back office operations and in field sales and data collection, including design, development and deployment of Handhelds, Marketing Equipment (Service, Tracking and Return on Investment), reporting and Vending management. Have participated on the launch of operations in new markets, and re-engineered the back office in several countries.


Designed and led the development and deployment internal ERP system for Pepsi used in On-Premise/Vending in 13 markets. Designed 2 handheld systems, the latest is now deployed in 4 markets internationally. Re-engineered the back office functions (settlements, despatch, invoicing, credit control, etc) for over 20 snack, confectionary and beverage operators. Developing software: Progress, VB, Access, C, Sybase, SA

Innovative-Selling Solutions; SalesSuite


State University of New York - BA Economics NYU - Courant - Graduate work - Computing

Awards and Honors
Moderator of LinkedIn CEE Group

Past/Present Clients
PepsiAmericas PepsiCola International PepsiCola Company British Steel British Telecom Britvic (Pepsi's bottler in the UK) AT&T BellSouth Mars Overseas Bottling Pepsi France Matutano (Frito-Lay Spain) Frito-Lay Pepsi Foods International Chase Manhattan Bank Kidder Peabody National Power SmithKline Beecham Mars Overseas Bottling (Pepsi Azerbaijan) A&P Bottling (Pepsi Serbia & Montenegro) Iberia Bottlers (Pepsi Georgia)

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