The growth of micro markets has more than doubled over the past two years and the number of regulatory and legislative issues impacting the industry has multiplied. NAMA’s 2016 Census of the Industry found that the micro market channel grew by 154 percent over a two year period to include nearly 20,000 locations representing $1 billion in revenue generation.
Due to this increase it is crucial that micro market operators and consumers be protected on issues ranging from food safety to plan review processes, licensing fees and limitations on physical placement within America’s businesses. To this end, NAMA is building on its years of positive work that helped create a national guidance document on micro markets (unattended food establishments) intended to assist regulatory authorities and the industry in the review, approval and operation of unattended food establishments by pro-actively leading efforts in states to introduce and pass legislation and regulations to define micro markets, formalize how they are taxed and licensed and protect them from over-regulation due to confusion over the concept.
States taking the lead
NAMA has already seen positive results. A few states of note:
Indiana – In 2017, the Indiana Refreshment Providers Association (IRPA) led the effort to define micro markets. The legislation passed and was signed by the governor with an effective date of July 1, 2017. It has served as a model for other states to mirror. The importance of this law is that it will serve to protect operator’s investments in micro markets by providing clarity to the definition of a micro market.
Georgia – NAMA has been actively working with the state council to have micro markets defined in regulation and fee structures formalized. This effort is in its final stages and NAMA anticipates having a final regulation or guidance document from the Georgia Department of Agriculture in 2018.
Pennsylvania – Partnering with the Tri-State Council, NAMA anticipated leading an effort to introduce legislation to formalize micro markets in state law in Pennsylvania prior to their “Convenience Services Day” at the state capital in May. Research is still underway to determine whether regulatory work will be needed as well as passing legislation to formalize the definition of micro markets to protect operators from over-regulation.
Maryland – The state council recently held its annual “Convenience Services Day” to lobby its state-level elected officials on legislation to define micro markets in state law. A hearing has been set in both the House and Senate to take the next step in adopting the legislation. All indications are that this legislation will pass during the 2018 legislative session paving the way for micro markets to be defined and solidification of how items sold in the channel are taxed. This will assist operators in knowing how to properly pay sales tax on products sold from micro markets.
Virginia – NAMA has been working in a partnership effort with the Virginia Automatic Merchandising Association (VAMA) to have micro market defining legislation passed at the state level. Legislation has been introduced and hearings have been set. This is positive for passage of this legislation to define micro markets and formalize a licensing structure.
Partners in the effort
NAMA and the government affairs team are excited to lead the effort in partnering with state councils to pro-actively protect operators and consumers of micro markets. This focus will continue to expand to other states across the country as well as at the federal level in the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Food Code which is adopted by every state.