AAFES says it followed mandate in buying alcohol for Guam exchanges
The Army and Air Force Exchange Service bought selected beers, wines and liquors from local distributors on Guam to satisfy a mandate set forth two months ago in a defense appropriations bill, according to a spokesman at its Dallas headquarters.
The purchases contradict claims Guam congressional delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo made last week to launch a Defense Department investigation into the recent spike in alcohol prices. She claims no liquor was bought from area distributors, but prices on resold products continued to rise at military exchanges.
The AAFES spokesman, Judd Anstey, in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes, also said alcohol prices that rose dramatically in early September have begun returning to previous levels.
Congressional language in the defense spending provision would have restricted AAFES and the Navy Exchange from bringing alcohol to the island via military transportation. Last month, the provision was changed and no longer requires installations to buy from local vendors who are subject to substantial shipping charges.
Anstey said spirits’ prices are expected to be lowered again at AAFES stores Nov. 14. Wine prices were to come down Friday while beer costs were lowered Oct. 31.
A Navy Exchange spokeswoman in Virginia did not reply to a written query.
Although the mandate no longer is in effect, local vendors remain an option when acquiring wholesale alcohol, said Master Sgt. Donovan Potter, a spokesman at AAFES Pacific Region headquarters on Okinawa.
“It’s just like anything AAFES purchases,” he said Thursday. “We try to give our customers the best price. If it’s legal for us to purchase locally, we will do that to pass along the savings to our customers.”
On Sept. 2, alcohol prices at AAFES and NEX outlets increased 40 percent to 50 percent for some items.
The price of a 12-pack of Miller Lite beer jumped from $7.50 to $8.99. A 750 ml bottle of Sutter Home Moscato wine went from $5.49 to $8.99, and a liter bottle of 6-year-old Canadian Club whiskey climbed to $17.79, an increase of two dollars.
Anstey said “100 percent” of AAFES earnings from the sale of alcoholic beverages — minus about 2 percent set aside to improve services and facilities — are used to fund Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs.
“AAFES doesn’t ‘profit’ from the sale of Class Six merchandise,” he said.