Sales of Alcoholic Beverages in Iowa at All-time High

By Rod Boshart, Reporter

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By Aaron Hepker

DES MOINES, Iowa - Iowans consumed alcoholic beverages in record numbers during the last fiscal year.

Sales of alcoholic spirits in Iowa during fiscal 2013 hit an all-time high of nearly $256 million, according to the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division (ABD) — the state’s liquor wholesaler since fiscal 1988.

Sales through the 12-month period that ended last June 30 were $21 million, or 5.6 percent, higher than the previous year, and marked the highest level since the state became the exclusive wholesaler of spirits in Iowa.

Iowans bought:

4.95 million gallons of spirits, up 1.9 percent from the previous year

4.42 million gallons of wine, a 6.1 percent increase

73.1 million gallons of beer, which represented a 5.8 percent decline from fiscal 2012.

“Iowa is right on par with national trends, which are indicating that beer consumption is down while wine and spirits consumption is up,” division spokeswoman Tonya Dusold said.

“Beer has been trending down for a number of years as people migrate over to wine and spirits. Also, home brewing has been picking up and that may be having an impact on beer taxes collected for people brewing at home rather than purchasing from a retailer,” she added.

The numbers indicate that on average an Iowa adult aged 21 or older consumed 2.27 gallons of spirits, 2.03 gallons of wine and 33.56 gallons of beer last fiscal year, Dusold said.

Fiscal 2013 also marked a record-breaking year for funds generated for the state at $119.5 million from the sale of spirits, as well as increased revenue generated by excise taxes, license fees and civil penalties, said ABD Administrator Stephen Larson.

The majority of the state proceeded were transferred to the general fund to be appropriated by the Iowa Legislature for a variety of state programs.

Nearly $19 million was generated for substance abuse programs, according to division officials. Cities and counties also received more than $3.6 million to support local programs and the remaining funds are used for Iowa native wine and beer promotion.

The increased sales trend has continued into the current fiscal year with gross sales up 1.7 percent, or $1.6 million, for the first four months, Larson noted. In fiscal year 2013, the division implemented projects to allow for productivity enhancement and improved space utilization, creating the opportunity to increase selection for consumers, he added.

“This past year was dedicated to improving processes and laying the groundwork to achieve results over the next decade,” Larson said in a statement. “ABD’s education and outreach efforts are showing results with positive compliance trends in both alcohol and tobacco.”

The past year division officials focused on evaluating delivery processes, facility infrastructures and technologies to find efficiencies and prepare for growth. For the third consecutive year, he said, the administration put great emphasis on education and outreach for licensees, partners, stakeholders and citizens.

“We serve not only the liquor licensee, but the entire state of Iowa. It’s our duty to ensure that we’re doing what we can to protect the public by monitoring trends, creating opportunities for community partnership, and educating both licensees and the public about the responsible use and distribution of alcohol,” said Claire Celsi, chairwoman of the Alcoholic Beverages Commission.

This year the division has been holding town hall meetings in each county to educate and increase communications among the agency, local authorities and retailers, division officials added.

The Alcohol Beverages Division’s fiscal year 2013 annual report is available online at IowaABD.com, although financial figures have not yet been audited.

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