NEW DELHI : Industry association International Spirits & Wines Association of India (ISWAI), which represents large international liquor companies in India, on Thursday urged the Delhi government to consider and implement home delivery of alcoholic beverages in the capital on the back of rising covid-19 cases.

“The current festive months are the peak consumption period for the industry, and regularizing and formalising of home delivery will ensure minimal disruption to the industry, ensure citizen convenience, and also protect jobs whilst protecting state revenue from the alco-bev industry,” the association that makes representations on behalf of foreign liquor companies such as Bacardi, Beam Suntory, Brown Forman, Diageo, Moet Hennessy, Pernod Ricard, and William Grant & Sons, said in a note.

Industry bodies have been batting for more convenient forms of accessing liquor including home delivery of alcohol. India does not have a national policy that governs the home delivery of liquor; the sale of liquor is a state subject. However, different states have experimented with various models of enabling home delivery of alcoholic beverages.

Excise department figures available from the states of West Bengal and Maharashtra on the number of orders placed via home delivery of liquor during the pandemic validates the argument for home delivery, ISWAI spokesperson said. For instance, West Bengal recorded a total order count of 1.91 lakh home deliveries with a registered buyer count of around 1.5 lakh, whereas Maharashtra recorded close to 60 lakh home deliveries between May 15, 2020, and March 31, 2021, it said.

Consumers too are seeking convenience when it comes to accessing alcohol, while also ensuring social distancing, ISWAI representatives said.

Nita Kapoor, CEO, ISWAI said that given the demand among citizens in all the states, we believe that if the home delivery model is regularised with all the necessary regulations in place, going forward, this could become a potential channel for encouraging responsible drinking beside the growth of revenue for states.

“Allowing home delivery to be included as a permanent feature of the excise policies of the states to cater to consumer demands and minimise industry disruptions during the covid surge,” Kapoor said.

ISWAI is ready to partner with the states to build comprehensive regulations and safeguards, inculcating a practice of responsible consumption, it added.

The industry association has asked the state government to reinforce and frame standard home delivery norms.

The appeal comes as Delhi has transitioned to a new excise policy that saw the government completely exit the liquor business and hand it over to private vend owners.

“Allowing home delivery of liquor to continue will address the problem of the low retail density of AlcoBev outlets, which minimises the reach of brands, and will restrict the sale of counterfeit liquor through informal supply chains, curb underage consumption, that they otherwise lose to such illicit sellers. The revenue of the State Government would also be protected as only duty paid and genuine products will be sourced from licensed retailers and delivered by the retailers’ employees, or by their authorised agents,” said Suresh Menon, secretary-general, ISWAI.