Publix, “The Big 3” and Free Goods in Florida.



If you are not in the wine industry, you may want to switch off because this article (more of a ramble really) will probably bore you to death. You have been warned.

If you’re in Florida and working in the beverage industry, you’ll know that there has been a little shake-up with regards to grocery store chain Publix and “The Big Three”; namely wine distributors SWS, Premier and RNDC.
From what I can assert, Publix have demanded that the three largest beverage distributors in Florida stop offering wine free-good deals to both on and off premise accounts. The discounts will instead be somehow built into BTG programs, and I’m guessing some kind of tiered pricing.

I have heard a couple of stories as to why Publix made this move, but nothing confirmed and nothing that I am willing to put into print. After doing some digging I have yet to come up with any news on this story. Maybe there’s a good reason for that, maybe this isn’t news at all? Let me say that I have a number of very good friends working for all three of these companies, and I’m not trying to start pointing any fingers here. I genuinely think it’s an interesting move, and that it’s even more interesting that nothing has been written about it.

My questions are:

– Does Publix really have that much power that they can demand such a move State-wide? What if SWS, Premier and RNDC has said no?

– Will this give the smaller distributors more power of negotiation over the big boys?

– Surely there will be a big impact on other retailers in Florida, such as Total Wine and Costco?


Not that I expect a huge (if any) response on this, but if you have any thoughts feel free to chime in. Your comments can of course be kept anonymous.


  • February 22, 2011

    Larry Chandler

    If there is no news here, no evidence of wrongdoing, no one is commenting, all we have is your suspicions that something is going on but you can’t even say what that is. So what was the point of this post?

  • February 22, 2011

    Kris Chislett

    I posted for my own selfish reasons. There IS news here, I just can’t find mention of it on the Information Super Highway. I don’t have suspicions, it IS happening. What I was ideally looking for was someone how might know the true story. I have spoken to countless different reps for the big 3, but each one of them seems to have a different story. Thanks for reading Larry, let me know if you have any info to share!

  • February 22, 2011

    Kris Chislett

    …oh, and I didn’t for one second suggest that there is any evidence of “wrong doing”. I’m sure everything is legal and above-board. I just wanted the inside scoop.

  • February 22, 2011


    I worked for one of those companies for 23 years at all levels of management. Believe me, where there is a will, there is a way. Things like this have been going on for years…as long as i can remember. Johnny wants a blue suit, turn on a blue light. A distributors #1 job is to move boxes! That’s it, everything else is secondary. You can claim to have have a very prestigious portfolio, the best of this and that but it’s all about boxes…placements are a far second.

    I’m not saying that what distributors are doing is illegal, they just find very clever and creative ways to circumvent the system. You can’t blame them, they have a business to run like everyone else.

    Distributors work hard to maintain a certain gross profit overall but Suppliers are the ones that push the distributors to make it happen no matter what the profit margins are. Distributors use other products to bolster margins. If Suppliers had thier way, they would rather ship direct and bypass the distributors on major accounts.

    More than you think is happening on a regular basis…the beverage dept doesn’t have the manpower or finances to even begin to investigate most charges. Besides, the State can’t afford to lose any tax revenues, especially during these hard economic times…take a look at the tax dollars that are generated in the state on a yearly basis, it’s mind boggling…

    About Publix, they just want to offer something exclusive to their customer base to have an edge on their compitition. If other major accounts scream, the distributors will be smart enough to find a way to satisfy them. And the wheel goes round and round…

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