AP NEWS

Oklahoma sees shortage as switch to stronger beer approaches

September 18, 2018

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma is seeing a shortage of beer as convenience and grocery stores move toward switching to stronger beer in October as a new law goes into effect.

Stores are balancing the arrival of stronger beer products with the need to clear their shelves of 3.2 percent beer while meeting demand, The Tulsa World reported . Retailers are trying to sell as much of the 3.2 percent beer products they have on hand because distributors won’t buy them back. Many stores, including Walmart, listed beer products at a discounted price to ensure sales.

A November 2016 law, which will go into effect Oct. 1, allows stores licensed by the Oklahoma Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission to sell beer stronger than the traditional 3.2 percent by volume. Some of Oklahoma’s liquor laws dated to the Prohibition era, with one limiting beer sales in grocery stores to products with an alcohol content of 3.2 percent or less.

The LDF Sales and Distributing warehouse has 500,000 cases of strong beer waiting to be shipped as nearby stores’ handle dwindling supplies.

“The intent was to be out of the market next week. We are probably out a little quicker than anticipated,” said Gerry Carnely, vice president of sales at LDF. “I know the consumer gets frustrated by the limited supply, but we feel like we are in a really good spot.”

QuikTrip spokesman Mike Thornbrugh said they anticipated a shortage after distributors informed them they wouldn’t bring additional 3.2 percent beer starting Sept. 1. Options will become even slimmer as Oct. 1 approaches, he said.

“We won’t have multiple varieties and different types of packaging,” Thornbrugh said. “We like to see every cooler shelf full of product and our storage at capacity, but that’s not going to happen. That’s OK, because we know what’s on the horizon.”

Cox Food Saver store manager Richard Carter said the change has hurt the sales.

“Having empty shelves has hurt us,” he said. “People are coming up to us all the time asking if we can go back and get their favorite beer. I have to tell them we don’t have anything.”

Carter said he hopes the chance to sell wine and increased beer options will make up for the losses.

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Information from: Tulsa World, http://www.tulsaworld.com

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