POLL SHOWS NEW YORKERS SUPPORT SUPERMARKET WINE SALES

ALBANY, N.Y. (FNS) -- Seven of every 10 New Yorkers would like the ability to buy wine in supermarkets, according to a Sienna Research poll conducted for the "It's Time for Wine" coalition.James Rogers, president of the Food Industry Alliance for New York State and one of the founders of the coalition, has campaigned across the state in conjunction with chain and independent grocery stores, urging

ALBANY, N.Y. (FNS) -- Seven of every 10 New Yorkers would like the ability to buy wine in supermarkets, according to a Sienna Research poll conducted for the "It's Time for Wine" coalition.

James Rogers, president of the Food Industry Alliance for New York State and one of the founders of the coalition, has campaigned across the state in conjunction with chain and independent grocery stores, urging the governor and state legislature to allow the sale of wine in grocery and food stores. The sale of wine would generate $130 million in additional revenue for the state, Rogers said.

The survey of 620 state residents found 62% who never bought wine agreed that selling wine in food stores would be a good idea.

"New Yorkers are saying yes in an overwhelming way to this proposal and they deserve an explanation as to why their elected officials are not doing what they want," Rogers said.

Currently, wine can be sold only in liquor stores, and representatives of that segment are opposing the supermarket plan. Distributors also oppose supermarket sales.

"They're going to be forced to be a lot more competitive and that's certainly something they don't want to do," said Neil Golub, president and chief executive officer of Price Chopper Supermarkets, Schenectady, N.Y., and a coalition leader. "That is kind of an archaic attitude, but that's the reality for us."

An earlier study conducted for the coalition in 2002 to determine the impact the proposal would have on sales of wine in liquor stores, found those stores were already declining at a steady pace, with 2,480 liquor stores operating in New York in 2002, down 445 stores from 10 years earlier.

"This trend simply serves to increase the monopoly power in the smaller group of liquor retailers," Rogers said. "In effect, all boats will rise on an incoming tide. There is loads of room for us -- the grocery stores -- to co-exist with liquor stores in the sale of wine and in the process not really do any significant damage," Rogers said.

"New York is not really trying to be a pioneer in this," he added. "We're just trying to play catch-up."

Of the $130 million in additional revenue, half would come from a one-time franchise fee. Only about $10 million would come from sales tax revenue, officials noted.

"It's not a terribly significant amount of money, but we felt with the state looking for revenue and also with all the leaders saying it should come from no new taxes, we believe very strongly that this is a very viable component they should be looking at," Rogers said.

Golub said he has had conversations with Gov. George Pataki and legislative leaders, and that Pataki seemed "open minded" to the proposal.