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SWS/Kroger Category Management Program Toes the Line on “Tied House” Restrictions — TTB Ruling Raises as Many Questions as it Answers

February 24, 2016

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On February 11, the TTB released ruling 2016-1 in response to beverage alcohol industry players and trade groups questioning an initiative by Kroger and Southern Wine & Spirits, which would reportedly require payment by wholesalers to merchandisers selected by Kroger to direct the placement of brands and bottles on Kroger shelves across the country. Many in the industry saw this initiative as a possible violation of the “Tied House” rules designed to prevent unfair competitive practices across the industry’s three tiers (27 U.S.C. § 205). TTB’s ruling seeks to clarify what is and what is not permissible in terms of shelf plans and shelf schematics, but the ruling comes with a twist that may very well shake up established category management practices.

The ruling states that “[f]urnishing retailers with a shelf plan or shelf schematic… is not an inducement” in violation of the Tied House rules.   This is nothing new

The European Commission Takes Back the Reins on Novel Food

With the continuing influx of foreign foods, algae, insects, microorganisms and foods with new molecular structures in our diets, the European Union has decided to put in place a harmonized procedure to vet – or not – these “novel foods” before they are placed on the market. This procedure is set out in the recent EU-wide Regulation which will enter into force beginning 2018. “Novel food” is defined as any food product which was not generally consumed in the European Union before 1997 (the date of the first European legislation on this subject) or innovative food developed using new technologies.

Bryan Cave lawyers Kathie Claret and Raphael Roditi prepared this article on the new regulation, which will be of interest to food manufacturers and importers in the EU.