Beer and Wine Coming to Military Commissaries

(U.S. Air Force/Xavier Lockley)
(U.S. Air Force/Xavier Lockley)

On-base shoppers will be able to buy beer and wine at military commissaries within the next 90 days, according to a recent Pentagon memo.

"The availability of beer and wine in Defense Commissary Agency stores will increase customer satisfaction and convenience, and align with common commercial grocery store practices," the memo states.

The April 27 memo, signed by Robert Wilkie, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, was first obtained by Military Times.

Currently, only exchange service stores, including the main base exchange store; "Class Six" or package stores; and exchange gas station shoppettes carry alcohol on bases worldwide.

Commissary beer and alcohol prices will be similar to those in the exchange, according to a separate memo, also signed by Wilkie.

It was not immediately clear whether all commissaries worldwide will carry beer and wine within the 90-day window. Although the memo states that "products will be available within 90 days," it also says "system-wide" sales will occur "efficiently and expediently thereafter."

The plan will put beer and wine sales in line with commissary tobacco sales, which are sold by the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) through a partnership with the exchange services, rather than directly by DeCA.

Traditionally, military commissaries were required by law to sell goods at cost, plus a 5 percent surcharge designated to cover the cost of commissary construction and upkeep.

But a 2016 law change gave the commissary system the ability to use "flexible pricing" and instead raise and lower item prices at will, so long as shoppers still experience a benchmark cost savings over prices in civilian stores.

-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at


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