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Control and sale of alcoholic beverages

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The Daily

Monday, June 9, 2008
Fiscal year ending March 31, 2007

Beer remains the alcoholic drink of choice for Canadians in terms of both volume and dollar value, but its dominance continues to decline as consumers turn more to wine.

Canada's beer and liquor stores and agencies sold more than $18.0 billion worth of alcoholic beverages during the fiscal year ending March 31, 2007, up 4.9% from the year before. This was the fastest rate of growth in sales since 2003.

This advance reflects, in part, the 1.4% increase in the population aged 15 and over as well as a 0.9% average increase in alcoholic beverage prices during this period.

In litres of absolute alcohol, the volume of sales of alcoholic beverages increased 3.1% to 218.7 million litres.

Market shares for the three alcoholic beverage types have changed substantially during the past decade. In 1997, beer accounted for 52% of dollar sales, spirits 27% and wine 21%. By 2007, beer had declined to 47% and spirits had slipped to 25%, while wine had captured 28% of the market.

In volume terms, wine sales significantly outpaced the growth of beer and spirit sales between 2005/2006 and 2006/2007.

Alcoholic beverage sales on a per capita basis, for Canadians aged 15 and over, amounted to $667 in 2006/2007, up $22 from the previous year.

Note to readers

This release includes downward revisions to beer sales for 2004/2005 and 2005/2006. These revisions were primarily due to revised data from respondents.

Per capita statistics have been updated to reflect the incorporation of the latest census results in the population statistics.

Statistics on sales of alcoholic beverages by volume should not be equated with data on consumption. Sales volumes include only sales by liquor authorities and their agents, and sales by wineries and breweries and outlets that operate under license from the liquor authorities.

Consumption of alcoholic beverages would include all these sales, plus homemade wine and beer, wine and beer manufactured through brew-on-premises operations, sales in duty-free shops and any unrecorded transactions.

Similarly, statistics on sales of alcoholic beverages by dollar value of sales should not be equated with consumer expenditures on alcoholic beverages. The sales data refer to the revenues received by liquor authorities, wineries and breweries and these revenues include sales to licensed establishments such as bars and restaurants.

The sales data, therefore, do not reflect the total amount spent by consumers on alcoholic beverages, since the prices paid in licensed establishments are greater than the price paid by those establishments to the liquor authorities.

Per capita data are based on the population aged 15 and over.

The net income realized by provincial and territorial liquor authorities, combined with other alcohol-related revenue such as liquor licences and permits, hit $5 billion in 2006/2007, up 5.2% from the previous year, with the Yukon, Alberta and Saskatchewan reporting the largest increases.

Red wines boost wine sales

Wineries and liquor stores and agencies sold $5 billion worth of wines in 2006/2007, up 9.5% from 2005/2006. In terms of volume, Canadians bought 405.7 millions of litres of wine, up 7.1% from the year before.

Much of the strength in wine sales can be attributed to increased sales of red wine. Sales of red wine accounted for 61% of the total volume of red and white wine sold. Red wine sales include sales of red and rosé wines.

Red wine dollar sales have increased 130% since 2000, while white wine dollar sales increased a substantially lower 33% over the same time frame. Three-quarters of all red wines sold in Canada were from other countries, compared with just over 60% of white wines.

Wine sales on a per capita basis, for Canadians aged 15 and over, amounted to $187 in 2006/2007, up almost $14 from the previous year.

Consumers in Quebec bought the most wine by far as their per capita wine sales surpassed the national average by almost $83. They accounted for 34% of all wine sold in Canada in 2006/2007 and 42% of all red wine sold. Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick were the only two provinces to report higher volume of sales of white wines than red wines.

Beer dominance weakening

Beer stores and agencies sold $8.4 billion worth of beer in 2006/2007, up 2.0% from the previous year.

In terms of volume, Canadians bought 2.3 billion litres of beer, up 1.6% from the year before. Per capita beer sales by Canadians aged 15 and over have declined 27% from its peak of 115.2 litres in 1976.

Although beer sales increased 2.0% at the Canada level, three jurisdictions (Quebec, Ontario and the Northwest Territories) reported lower sales compared with the previous year.

Beer sales on a per capita basis, for Canadians aged 15 and over, amounted to $312 in 2006/2007, up $1.60 from the previous year.

The growth in volume of sales of imported beer continues to outpace sales of domestic brands. The volume of imported beer sold jumped 7.6% in 2006/2007, while sales of domestic brands edged up 0.9%.

By volume, imported beer has more than doubled its market share in the last decade. In 2006/2007, foreign brands captured 11.4% of the beer market in Canada, up from 4.8% in 1996/1997.

Vodka increases spirits sales

Liquor stores and agencies sold $4.5 billion worth of spirits in 2006/2007, up 5.8% from the previous year. This gain was due mainly to a 10% sales increase in vodka.

Spirit sales on a per capita basis, for Canadians aged 15 and over, amounted to $168 in 2006/2007, up almost $7 from the previous year.

The volume of sales of spirits increased 1.8% in 2006/2007 to 206.1 million litres, with Canadian products representing 71% of these sales.

While domestic producers dominated the spirits market, the sales volume of imported spirits increased 3.3% to 60.2 million litres. Sales of Canadian spirits rose 1.2% to 146.0 million litres.

Whisky-type products, such as whisky, scotch and bourbon, are still the preferred spirits of choice of Canadians, accounting for almost 30% of all spirits sales in 2006/2007. Almost 70% of these sales were Canadian products.

Available on CANSIM: tables 183-0006 and 183-0015 to 183-0020.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 1726.

Data tables on sales of alcoholic beverages are available from the National economic accounts module of our website.

The 2007 issue of The Control and Sale of Alcoholic Beverages in Canada (63-202-XWE, free) will soon be available.

Data are also available through custom and special tabulation. For more information on products and services, contact Client Services (613-951-0767;, Public Institutions Division.

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Jo Ann MacMillan (613-951-0171;, Public Institutions Division.

Tables. Table(s).