29 Aug 2011

Proposed law change 'will hurt struggling wineries'

7:23 am on 29 August 2011

The wine industry says the struggle many wineries are having to survive will be made even harder by the Alcohol Reform Bill.

New Zealand Winegrowers says the Justice and Electoral Select Committee that considered the bill has failed to tackle any of the compliance cost issues it raised in its submissions.

New Zealand Winegrowers suggested having a special class of off-licence for winery cellar doors that would recognise their low risk in terms of alcohol abuse and relieve some of the cost burden on small wineries selling on average just one case of wine a day through the cellar door.

However the winegrowers chief executive, Philip Gregan says the Select Committee ignored that proposal.

He says there is a provision in the bill effectively saying that 85% of turnover at the cellar door must be alcohol.

Mr Gregan says the clause almost seems to be encouraging the sale of alcohol, at the expense of other items that might be sold at cellar door such as T-shirts, olive oil, food or cork screws that might be sold there.

He says concerns about the unintended consequences of measures to address irresponsible alcohol promotion also appear to have been ignored.

Mr Gregan says a provision in the bill banning price discounts of 25% or upwards seems well intentioned but will just lower the everyday selling price for wine, rather than reducing extreme discounting.