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Control and sale of alcoholic beverages

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For the year ending March 31, 2008 (Previous release)

Beer and liquor stores and agencies sold $18.8 billion worth of alcoholic beverages during the year ending March 31, 2008, up 4.3% from the previous year.

The growth in dollar value reflected a combination of three factors. These were: increased sales of imported spirits, wine and beer compared with domestic products; a 1.4% increase in the population aged 15 and over; and a 1.8% average increase in alcoholic beverage prices during the fiscal year.

In litres of absolute alcohol, the volume of sales of alcoholic beverages increased 2.2% to 222.9 million litres.

The net income realized by provincial and territorial liquor authorities, combined with other alcohol-related revenue such as liquor licences and permits, hit $5.2 billion in 2007/2008, up 4.6% from the previous year. Nunavut, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan reported the largest increases.

Beer dominance weakening

Beer stores and agencies sold $8.6 billion worth of beer in 2007/2008, up 2.4% from the previous year. Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia were the largest contributors to this growth.

Beer remained by far the most popular alcoholic beverage in terms of both volume and dollar value, although its market share declined.

In 1993, beer accounted for 53% of dollar sales, spirits 29% and wine 18%. By 2008, beer's share had declined to 46%, while spirits had slipped to 25%. In contrast, wine had captured 29% of the market.

In terms of volume, Canadians bought 2.3 billion litres of beer, virtually unchanged from the previous year. On a per capita basis, beer sales have declined 27% from their peak of 115 litres in 1976 to 84 litres in 2008.

The growth in volume of sales of imported beer continued to outpace sales of domestic products. The volume of imported beer sold increased 7.2% in 2007/2008, while sales of domestic products remained virtually unchanged.

Note to readers

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 15 years and over.

By volume, imported beer has more than doubled its market share in the last decade. In 2007/2008, foreign products captured 12.2% of the beer market in Canada, up from 5.6% in 1997/1998.

Sales of alcoholic beverages per capita 15 years and over: Volume

Red wines boost wine sales

Wineries and liquor stores and agencies sold $5.4 billion worth of wines in 2007/2008, up 7.3% from the previous year.

In terms of volume, Canadians bought 425.3 million litres of wine, a 4.9% increase. The growth in the sales of imported wine was more than twice the growth of domestic wine sales.

Much of the strength in wine sales can be attributed to the rising popularity of red wines. Sales of red wine, which includes both red and rosé wines, accounted for 62% of the total volume of red and white wine sold.

Dollar sales of red wine have more than doubled (+148%) since 2000, while white wine sales rose at a much slower pace (+44%) during the same period. Three-quarters of all red wines sold in Canada were from other countries, compared with just over 62% of white wines.

Vodka increases spirits sales

Liquor stores and agencies sold $4.7 billion worth of spirits in 2007/2008, up 4.4% from the previous year. This gain was due mainly to a 9.1% increase in vodka sales.

The volume of sales of spirits increased 2.3% in 2007/2008 to 210.8 million litres. Canadian products represented 69% of these sales.

Although domestic producers dominated the spirits market, the sales volume of imported spirits increased 8.7% to 65.4 million litres. Sales of Canadian spirits declined 0.4% to 145.4 million litres.

Whisky-type products, such as whisky, scotch and bourbon, were still the spirits of choice of Canadians, accounting for almost 28% of all spirits sales in 2007/2008. Canadian products accounted for almost 69% of whiskey-type product sales.

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.

Data are also available through custom and special tabulation. For more information on products and services, contact Client Services (613-951-0767; fe-pid-dipinfo@statcan.gc.ca), Public Sector Statistics Division.

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Jo Ann MacMillan (613-951-0171; joann.macmillan@statcan.gc.ca), Public Sector Statistics Division.

Table 1

Net income of provincial and territorial liquor authorities and revenue from the sales of alcoholic beverages at March 31 
  2007 2008 2007 to 2008
  $ thousands % change
Canada 5,014,389 5,243,576 4.6
Newfoundland and Labrador 112,322 118,141 5.2
Prince Edward Island 26,386 27,853 5.6
Nova Scotia 192,283 200,463 4.3
New Brunswick 132,727 146,420 10.3
Quebec 869,638 924,565 6.3
Ontario 1,771,595 1,854,012 4.7
Manitoba 209,413 220,756 5.4
Saskatchewan 161,466 173,630 7.5
Alberta 658,271 678,240 3.0
British Columbia 849,314 866,244 2.0
Yukon 8,933 9,470 6.0
Northwest Territories 20,998 22,327 6.3
Nunavut 1,043 1,455 39.5
Note(s):
Data may not add up to totals as a result of rounding.

Table 2

Sales of alcoholic beverages at March 31, 2008 
  Beer Wine Spirits Total
  $ thousands
Canada 8,625,533 5,413,650 4,747,845 18,787,028
Newfoundland and Labrador 195,554 43,211 117,443 356,207
Prince Edward Island 36,321 13,154 25,159 74,634
Nova Scotia 280,316 103,421 184,933 568,671
New Brunswick 230,285 68,281 102,880 401,446
Quebec 2,321,750 1,825,059 586,064 4,732,873
Ontario 2,969,039 1,818,668 1,828,732 6,616,439
Manitoba 255,991 113,705 216,973 586,668
Saskatchewan 238,933 66,008 192,657 497,598
Alberta 914,643 477,247 655,192 2,047,082
British Columbia 1,143,100 871,804 807,464 2,822,368
Yukon 16,117 6,347 10,006 32,470
Northwest Territories 19,692 6,448 19,091 45,230
Nunavut 3,792 298 1,251 5,341
  % change from previous year
Canada 2.4 7.3 4.4 4.3
Newfoundland and Labrador 8.7 16.1 6.9 9.0
Prince Edward Island 3.7 14.6 5.3 6.0
Nova Scotia 3.7 7.2 4.5 4.6
New Brunswick 4.6 9.7 2.9 5.0
Quebec 1.0 5.5 3.2 3.0
Ontario 2.4 5.8 3.0 3.5
Manitoba 4.9 8.8 5.6 5.9
Saskatchewan 0.8 17.1 9.3 5.9
Alberta 3.7 9.9 5.2 5.6
British Columbia 2.4 11.5 6.2 6.2
Yukon 7.5 10.3 11.8 9.3
Northwest Territories 5.8 7.6 8.9 7.4
Nunavut 8.9 8.8 9.0 8.9
Note(s):
Data may not add up to totals as a result of rounding.

Table 3

Sales of alcoholic beverages per capita 15 years and over at March 31, 2008 
  Beer Wine Spirits Total
  $
Canada 315.8 198.2 173.8 687.9
Newfoundland and Labrador 454.8 100.5 273.2 828.5
Prince Edward Island 316.7 114.7 219.4 650.8
Nova Scotia 354.4 130.7 233.8 718.9
New Brunswick 366.5 108.7 163.7 638.9
Quebec 360.0 283.0 90.9 734.0
Ontario 281.2 172.2 173.2 626.6
Manitoba 265.2 117.8 224.8 607.7
Saskatchewan 295.2 81.5 238.0 614.7
Alberta 319.8 166.9 229.1 715.8
British Columbia 315.4 240.6 222.8 778.8
Yukon 601.5 236.9 373.4 1,211.7
Northwest Territories and Nunavut 429.4 123.3 371.9 924.6
Note(s):
Data may not add up to totals as a result of rounding.