Business Law Alert: New TTB Ruling on Allowable Returns for Beer Products Past their Freshness Date

TTB released today a new ruling that addresses when a wholesaler may accept returns of beer that is past its freshness date.  A copy is attached.  Pursuant to the new ruling, TTB will permit the return of product past its freshness date when:

(1) The brewer has policies and procedures in place that specify the date the retailer must pull the product;

(2) Such brewer’s freshness return/exchange policies and procedures are readily verifiable and consistently followed by the brewer;

(3) The container has identifying markings that correspond with the pull date; and

(4) The malt beverage product pulled by the retailer may not re-enter the retail marketplace. 

However, if TTB determines that a wholesaler is requiring or forcing a retailer to overstock its products under the pretext that the retailer may exchange the product based upon freshness, TTB may investigate the wholesaler for violating the consignment sales and/or tied house provisions of TTB’s regulations.  Furthermore, if the returned or exchanged products are reintroduced to the retail market, TTB may investigate whether the purported freshness policy was a subterfuge to violate the consignment sales and/or tied house provisions of TTB’s regulations.
Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this new ruling or about TTB regulations in general.