Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Province of Ontario allows beer sales in some grocery stores

The premier of the province of Ontario, Kathleen Wynne, announced the government will allow beer to be sold in up to 450 grocery stores.
Up to now beer in Ontario has been sold through the Beer Store chain — owned by breweries — but also through Liquor Control Board of Ontario stores that sell liquor and wine as well. There are also outlets at individual breweries. Only 13 percent of Canadians surveyed knew that the Beer Store was not a government-owned monopoly. It is actually owned by multi-national breweries: Owned at its inception by a consortium of Ontario-based brewers, subsequent national and international consolidation has resulted in control now being shared by three multinational brewing companies, two foreign owned and one which is 50% controlled by non-Canadian interests.The new regulations indicate the Beer Store should open ownership to others than the three current owners. There are 447 Beer Stores across Ontario.

Craft brewers are happy the new regulations require the Beer Store to devote 20 percent of its shelf space to craft brewers rather than just the seven percent now required. Also brewers who have more than one production site will be able to sell beer in more than just one.
Beer marketing varies from province to province with Quebec, for example, already allowing beer sales in even small grocery stores. Wynne also announced she would be adding a 25 cent tax to each case of 24 for the next two years. There will also be a beer ombudsman who will ensure that the changes are carried out properly. The grocery stores will only be able to sell beer in single bottles and six packs.
In announcing the changes, Wynne told reporters:“When it comes to the sale of beer in Ontario, I’m here to announce that the status quo is over and that the days of monopoly are done.” She claimed these were the biggest changes to beer sales in Ontario since prohibition ended in 1927.