Alcohol distribution price increase unfair

By Lauren Kelly

Recently, wholesale liquor distribution companies implemented a price increase on alcoholic beverages, coinciding with the latest state tax increase on alcohol that went into effect Sept. 1, making alcohol consumption in Illinois much more expensive. Wholesalers seem to be hiding behind the recent tax hike to cover their additional increases and to avoid public complaints.

According to a Chicago Tribune article published last month, “Voters are primed to blame politicians for almost anything, so piggybacking price hikes on tax increases is a tried-and-true business technique for deflecting consumer ire over rising costs.”

However, Wirtz Beverage Illinois, one of the two major wholesale companies in Illinois, insists they won’t profit from the price increase, the Tribune reported.

Separately, many beer breweries anno-unced they will be increasing their prices due to a rise in ingredient costs.

Instead of trying to cover the increase by burying it under the tax hike, the wholesalers should have made more of a concerted effort to announce the change. If they aren’t profiting from it, there shouldn’t have been a problem with being open and honest. Raising prices almost immediately after the state tax hike was in poor taste.

However, raising prices of alcoholic beverages won’t make people stop drinking, especially in an economic recession. Consumers will probably just choose to buy less-expensive brands and drink at home instead of at bars or clubs.

Large companies sell products that pander to human vices, even in the midst of the current economic recession because they know people will never stop buying their products. They know people won’t stop drinking, and historically, alcohol is one of the only businesses that keeps profiting, even in a recession. To keep companies and the state from making billions through unnecessary taxes and price hikes, they need to be clear and honest about where the money is going and how it will be used.

According to the Tribune, Wirtz Beverage Illinois said all of the increases are pass-throughs from suppliers. However, what the increases will actually pay for is unclear. There needs to be more accountability from the liquor wholesalers as to where this money is going and how it will actually be spent.