Diageo to end relationship with US trade association Distilled Spirits Council at the end of this year

US – Diageo has announced it will part ways with Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) at the end of the year,making an exit from one of the industry’s top U.S. trade associations.

The global leader in premium drinks, across spirits and beer said it has opted to nolonger renew its membership in DISCUS. 

Diageo spokesperson Lorenzo Lopez said the company which is listed as one of 17 members of the trade group’s board of directors, is instead turning its focus to its internal initiative promoting sustainability; diversity, equity, inclusion; and safe drinking and moderation practices.

Lopez added: “Like most companies, we periodically review our memberships in industry organizations, and we make decisions based on what we believe is in the best interest of our company.

“At this time, we have chosen to focus our resources on key strategic priorities which we would like to pursue, but we will remain an active and committed player in the industry.”

Diageo noted that it will continue to work with the trade group on areas of mutual interest, including the DISCUS-run and industry-funded Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, or Responsibility.org, as well as an industry initiative Diageo helped fund aimed at bringing more people of color into the alcohol industry.

Lopez also didn’t rule out Diageo’s return to the trade group in the future. Although she said the split was amicable.

DISCUS has a broad membership that includes both large and small producers as well as members who represent different portions of the distilled spirits supply chain.

In a statement that thanked Diageo “for their significant contributions over the years,” DISCUS and Responsibility.org President and CEO Chris Swonger highlighted that the trade group had “significantly expanded its membership” in recent years along with adding a partner program and a grassroots program to “extend our advocacy efforts.

The broadening of the organization has enabled the advocacy successes and made DISCUS stronger, Swonger noted.

DISCUS, which dropped US$4.6 million on federal lobbying last year, notched a major win this spring when the U.S. and U.K. reached a trade agreement that lifted the final layer of retaliatory tariffs on American whiskeys — a top priority for the group for years.

The US trade Association also successfully lobbied in 2020 to make permanent certain tax cuts for alcohol producers and is also heavily involved at the state level in pushing for permanent cocktails-to-go laws and tax rates on so-called ready-to-drink products.

In addition, the association plans to be in talks with lawmakers about a lift of a Prohibition-era restriction on the Postal Service’s ability to ship alcohol directly to consumers — a growing industry that boomed during the pandemic.

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